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Visitor StudiesPhysics

Atomic Fusion
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Princeton, New Jersey
Study conducted by Minda Borun, director of research and evaluation at the Franklin Institute Science Museum; and Margaret Chambers, consultant
May 1996

Purpose: To gather information for a planned traveling exhibition

Methods: Questionnaire

Findings: Only slightly more than half of the visitors knew that atoms or their components are the basic unit of matter; they confused atoms with cells. People had heard of fission and fusion, but could not define or explain the terms.

Living with the Sun
Arizona Science Center
Phoenix, Arizona
1994
Study conducted by Laura Martin, director of education and research; and Walter Heineke, research assistant

Purpose: To determine public interest in energy and related topics, explore public attitudes toward these topics, and gather information on public conceptions of science topics related to energy exhibits planned for a new science center

Methods: Focus groups and interviews with parents and with children in 4th, 6th, and 8th grades

Findings: The study looked at understandings and interests related to heat, light, solar energy, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Everyone was interested in the topics, and most had knowledge of real-world applications such as saving money on your utility bills. The 8th graders knew the most.

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