Why Science Museums Are Important: An International Study


A family makes friends with marine life in the touch tank at the Museum’s Sea Lab

Have you ever been to a science museum? What is the first memory that comes to mind? It might be a memory of being with family or friends on a fun outing, learning something amazing, or feeling like a scientist doing a real experiment. You may even remember seeing a museum presence at an event out in the community. If you haven’t been to the Museum, maybe you have thought of checking it out. Whatever your memory is, science museums can make a real impact on both individuals and communities, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science recently participated in an international research study to examine what those impacts are.

Last year, well-known informal learning researcher John Falk designed and led the international study, which involved museums from thirteen countries, including the US, Canada, Finland, Singapore, Australia, Sweden, Mexico, Colombia, and more. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science was the only participating museum from the US, and was fortunate to receive a $25,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to self-fund participation in the study.

To find out what impact the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science has had, and continues to have, on our community, the Museum hired Tameka Linnell and the Miami-based firm The Human Collective. Tameka and her team collected over 600 responses from the Miami community, including 253 youth (age 14-15) and 256 adults. This random sampling included those from nine areas throughout Miami, namely Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Homestead, Little Haiti, Opa Locka, Miami Beach, Aventura, and Downtown Miami, which as a whole represent the cultural and ethnic diversity of the community. One hundred Museum members and program participants provided a comparison group for the study.

The final report, just released, provides numerous fascinating insights about science museums’ impacts on their communities. A major takeaway is that this research shows strong empirical evidence that experiences at science centers, around the world and with a diversity of audiences, positively contribute to building a community that is not only science and technology literate, but also engaged in science and technology.  More results of this study are only a click away: ISCIS Final Report.

Many more memories are waiting to be created next time you visit the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science!

ISCIS study

Science museum participants from all over the world

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