The Saint Louis Science Center (SLSC) project Bridging Earth and Mars (BEAM), based upon work supported by NASA under grant award NNX14AD08G, engages the general public and children from schools and community groups. Visitors learn of NASA’s exploration of Mars through exhibits simulating control of robotic rovers on the surface of Mars, as well as related educational programming. Two public exhibition galleries opened on November 21, 2015: (1) Mission: Mars Control, located on the second floor of the SLSC Main Building; and (2) Mission: Mars Base, located in the SLSC Planetarium Building across the highway from the Main Building via an enclosed bridge. These two galleries, referred to for simplicity as Control and Base, aim to support NASA’s goals to (1) inform, engage, and inspire the public to appreciate NASA’s mission by sharing findings and information about NASA’s missions to Mars; (2) ignite interest in S-STEM topics and careers for diverse K-8 students; and, (3) encourage students in grades 6-8 to sustain participation in educational experiences along the S-STEM careers pipeline. This summative evaluation focuses on the public exhibition galleries.
Tisdal Consulting conducted the external evaluation for this project. This summative report aims to provide useful information for funders, the project team, and other organizations developing exhibitions on engineering design and Mars exploration. Data for this study were collected between July 5, 2018, and September 5, 2018, using a mixed-method evaluation design. Methods included (1) tracking and timing observations (N = 322), (2) structured exit interviews (N = 58), and (3) focused-observations with brief open-ended interviews (N = 10).
Appendix contains logic model and instruments.
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