Science on the Move

Topic: The Nature of Science Subtopic: Science & Society

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Kyrie Kellett

Published on February 25, 2015

  • Description and goals

    Science on the Move: Everyday Encounters with Science (SOTM) (DRL-1222659) was a National Science Foundation-funded Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Pathways project that focused on the development, deployment, and research of informal learning experiences at transit stations in the Portland, Oregon, area. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) received the Pathways grant to explore innovative ways of reaching adults who typically do not frequent science centers, through the placement of unexpected science learning experiences in free public spaces. This work addressed three critical issues in informal science education (ISE): (a) reaching underserved audiences, (b) creating new models for science centers to partner with public agencies and businesses, and © developing robust, flexible strategies for researching science exhibits in public spaces.

  • Development process and challenges

    The SOTM project team developed two prototype exhibits about science and technology topics relevant to Portland-area residents, particularly the target audience of adults without college degrees. OMSI team members worked with partners at Portland’s transit authority, TriMet; advertising firm Lamar; and local businesses to create and deploy these exhibits in Portland-area transit stations. The team then conducted design-based research (DBR) to develop context-specific “theories of action” that reflected how the public engages with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning experiences at transit stations. Through these activities, SOTM was meant to provide initial insights and encourage further exploration by the field into unexpected informal learning experiences in public spaces.

  • Lessons learned, mistakes we made (and what we did about them)

    To share lessons learned with the field about creating unexpected science learning experiences in free public spaces outside of science museums, the team wrote a “think piece” titled “Tripping Over Science: Taking STEM Exhibits Outside of the Museum.” The piece can be found at

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