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Browse PublicationsFostering Active Prolonged Engagement:
    The Art of Creating APE Exhibits
  Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement

Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement:
The Art of Creating APE Exhibits

By Thomas Humphrey, Joshua P. Gutwill,
& the Exploratorium APE Team
The Exploratorium, 2005

A must for exhibit developers, researchers, educators, and other museum professionals looking for ways to engage visitors more deeply with interactive science exhibits, this book documents the exploration and findings of the Exploratorium's NSF-funded APE project. Both a significant contribution to visitor research and a nuts-and-bolts guide to exhibit development, Fostering Active Prolonged Engagement includes 15 "APE Tales" (exhibit recipes with photos, drawings, and detailed construction specifications); discussions about setting explicit goals for visitors' exhibit experiences; research and evaluation methods and results; and lessons learned for building constructivist-style exhibits. 144 pp.

$19 for ASTC members; $23 for nonmembers. Shipping and handling extra.

This project does more than acknowledge personal and social meaning-making; it celebrates it, and makes it the intended outcome of visitors' experiences. Few research studies in the museum literature attempt to assess this constructivist process goal so clearly... The authors also address another currently important topic: challenging the traditional authoritarian voice of museums. They recognize that APE exhibits at which visitors can ask their own questions, engage in inquiries over and above those suggested in the graphics, and take pleasure in "observing, playing, investigating, exploring, collaborating, searching, speculating," are empowering for visitors.

—George Hein

Table of Contents

Foreword: The Importance of APE
Visitor Conversation: Circuit Workbench
Introduction: The Evolution of APE
Observing APE


George Hein
Kathleen McLean

Thomas Humphrey
Joshua Gutwill

APE Tales
      An Introduction to the APE Tales

      Visitor Conversation: What's Hot, What's Not?
      Spinning Patterns
      What's Hot, What's Not?
      Floating Objects
      Visible Vibrations

Jessica Brainard

Charles Sowers
Diane Whitmore
Erik Thogersen
Erik Thogersen

      Visitor Conversation: Downhill Race
      Gravity-Powered Calculator
      Downhill Race
      Ball Launcher

Erik Thogersen
Tom Tompkins
Tom Tompkins

      Visitor Conversation: Watch Water Freeze
      Watch Water Freeze
      Flow Formations
      Magnetic Labyrinth

Charles Sowers
Charles Sowers
Charles Sowers

      Visitor Conversation: Pulley Table
      Circuit Workbench
      Pulley Table
      3-D Shapes
      Making a Mobile
      Shaking Shapes

Erik Thogersen
Jessica Strick
Diane Whitmore
Eric Dimond
Diane Whitmore

Reflecting on APE


Joshua Gutwill
& Erik Thogersen

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