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Conversations of Family and Primary School Groups at Robotic Dinosaurs in a Museum? What Do They Talk about?

Journal of Elementary Science Education Volume 20, Number 3, ISSN 1090-185X


The story from the museum may not be read by visitors, who come with their own knowledge and understanding and read a different story in the animals. The visitors read a story which makes sense to them and builds on what they already know and interests them. Increasingly, robotics models are being used in natural history museums, science centers, and zoos to attract visitors and tell some kind of story. What do the visitors actually talk about when looking at such robotic animals? The visitors reported on in this paper were primary school groups and families. Do they talk about similar things at the same exhibits, even though the schools visit for educational purposes and the families of their free choice in their leisure time? Furthermore, within school groups, do different subgroups respond in a different way, gauged by the content of their conversations, to similar robotics? This paper studies the conversational content of primary school and family groups at two different robotics dinosaur exhibits in the Natural History Museum, London. One of the exhibits is no longer on display. These verbal responses were analyzed through using a systemic network. Results indicate that visitors commented on a very simple story told through the design of the exhibit and the movements of the specimens. Visitors also noticed the salient features of the animatronics models as reptiles. (Contains 4 figures, 4 tables, and 1 endnote.)


Tunnicliffe, S.D. (2008). Conversations of Family and Primary School Groups at Robotic Dinosaurs in a Museum? What Do They Talk about?. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 20(3), 17-33. Retrieved May 28, 2020 from .

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