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Hands-on Science Centres around the World: How do they rate in their use of the Web? PROCEEDINGS

, , Southern Cross University, Australia

WebNet World Conference on the WWW and Internet, in San Antonio, Texas Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA

Abstract

Throughout the developed world there exist many Science Centres that aim to introduce people of all ages to Science and Technology. These Centres have as their brief the promotion of a greater understanding of Science and Technology in relation to today's social, educational and business environments. They adopt a constructivist approach and offer hands-on experiences with a wide variety of interactive displays, exhibits and experiments. The traditional offerings of these Centres involved various physical apparatus housed in publicly assessable buildings and subject to the usual restrictions of demand, available space and hours of operation. Other issues involved the need to keep equipment functional and secure. By the mid 90's the Web had developed to a point where free or low cost multimedia capable browsers, and suites of development tools, made it feasible to offer online, virtual experiences that allowed “hands-on” learning and experimentation by a rapidly expanding global audience without the physical restrictions of traditional learning environments. Hands-on Science Centres began to move some of their offerings into the Web. This paper reports on a survey of 97 Science Centre Web sites whose URL's were collected in the period 1995 to 1999 then examined in late 1999. The sites represented centres located in 20 countries around the world. However, as might be expected, the majority were from the USA. The sites were rated on 25 parameters that aimed to provide a comprehensive picture of their operational structure and their use of various Web features and technologies. An analysis of the survey results illustrate how Web technologies are being used and give some idea of the quality of sites being built by science-based educational developers operating from a constructivist perspective. Individual sites provide useful ideas, approaches and instructional models for anyone developing Web-based instruction.

Citation

Ellis, A. & Patterson, K. (2000). Hands-on Science Centres around the World: How do they rate in their use of the Web?. In Proceedings of WebNet World Conference on the WWW and Internet 2000 (pp. 170-175). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

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