Using 3-D Digital Contents to Support Learning at Science Museum Settings

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Hiroyuki Arita-Kikutani, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan
Background: Science museums are popular places for children and families to be intimate toward science and learn on their own preferences. Science museums are, however, have exhibits that are sometimes difficult for the kindergarteners and lower elementary graders to understand the concepts and thus are not utilized well. However, due to the rapid developments in digital technology of recent years, museums can facilitate visitors’ learning by utilizing interactive digital contents both on-site and via the internet. The goal of this study is to nurture children’s positive attitude toward nature and science by facilitating their discoveries and enjoyment through utilizing of 3-D digital contents at science museum settings. Methods: Stegosaurus was selected for this trial. Little is known about dinosaur skin color. Coloring the ancient mysterious creatures encourage people not only to get excited but also to think scientifically. It is similar for people to relive the experiences of research activity in museums. We have developed a prototype of a computer program that enables users to draw their own dinosaurs by touching the pen tip to the surface of the tablet. A computer with a camera allows the users to reconstruct the flesh of the dinosaur displayed in the gallery. The superimposed images are interactive 3-D computer graphics, which are converted from the 2-D drawings made by the users. Then we have developed an Adobe AIR application that enables users to restore their own 3-D dinosaurs by converting the 2-D coloring in pictures made by the users. The 3-D computer graphics of the users' original dinosaur is displayed on the PC screen by reading into the picture of dinosaur through web camera. In accordance with the angle of the 2-D pictures, the users can view the 3-D dinosaur from all directions. Results: Changes in participant’s attitudes towards science museums before and after their participation were measured using the analysis method developed by Ogawa and Shimojo (2003). Positive changes were observed in the constructs ”attitudes of broad view for science,” “interests in science class” and “interests in science museums”. These results seem to indicate that this program enhanced the participant’s interests in science and science museums. Conclusions: Based on these results, we will apply the further improvement to these programs so that they become universally usable in the other science museums and implement improved program to investigate the further effectiveness of the programs to promote the participant’s positive attitude toward science and science museum.