While the opportunity to engage in scientific reasoning has been identified as an important aspect of informal science learning (National Research Council, 2009), most studies have examined this strand of science learning within the context of physics-based science exhibits. Few have examined the presence of such activity in conjunction with live animal exhibits at zoos and aquariums. A video study of 41 families at four touch-tank exhibits, where visitors can observe and interact with live marine species, revealed that families engaged in making claims, challenging claims, and confirming claims as well as other actions associated with scientific reasoning such as applying prior knowledge,making and testing predictions and hypotheses, and constructing arguments. We provide examples of scientific reasoning and examine the role of claims in promoting scientific reasoning. Implications for rethinking learning opportunities and interpretational approaches at touch tanks, as well as examination of the unique characteristics of these and similar exhibits, are discussed.

Authors: 
James Kisiel et al
Short Description: 
A video study of 41 families at four touch-tank exhibits, where visitors can observe and interact with live marine species, revealed that families engaged in making claims, challenging claims, and confirming claims as well as other actions associated with
Product Number: 
ORESU-R-12-013
Entry Date: 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Length: 
24 pp.
Miscellaneous: 
Additional authors: Shawn Rowe, Melanie Ani Vartabedian, and Charles Kopczak
Source (Journal Article): 
Science Education 96(6):1047-1070
DOI Number (Journal Article): 
10.1002/sce.21036
Year of Publication: 
2012