October/November 2017
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– Ellie, Hannah and Caroline
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We have been on placement with Proteus for 8 weeks as part of our MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement course at the University of Edinburgh. During our time here, we have worked on developing the Proteus exhibit at Glasgow Science Centre (GSC). This was initially designed by previous MSc students, and our role was to make changes to it in order to improve the user experience.

As part of this we had the opportunity to learn how to use IntuiFace. This is a new and exciting software tool that enables the creation of interactive touchscreen experiences. The Proteus GSC exhibit has three components: an interactive diagnostic game, a model of the technology, and an informative touchscreen, built with IntuiFace.

Initially, we viewed the Proteus IntuiFace experience remotely to scope potential improvements. We then visited GSC to view it in action in amongst the other aspects of the exhibit. We learned about GSC’s evaluation methods and used these on the Proteus exhibit. From the data we gathered, we drew conclusions about the changes that could be made to improve the overall user experience. We aimed to ensure the content was clear and accessible, and that the experience was intuitive. This is because we observed that some parts of the experience were seldom or never viewed by visitors. When questioned, we found that this was because they did not know the option was available to them.

Hannah, Caroline and Ellie thoroughly look through the current content on IntuiFace, making notes on potential changes.
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Additionally, we aimed to improve the overall aesthetics of the experience by altering the formatting. Some comments were made about it being too wordy, with one user describing it as feeling “like school”. Because of this, we aimed to increase word efficiency by reducing the word count without losing any of the detail.

Over the following weeks we implemented these changes using IntuiFace, and GSC installed them in the exhibit for us to re-evaluate. This allowed us to determine how our changes altered the user experience. Upon re-evaluation we observed that all users interacted with the previously neglected aspects of the experience. However, despite reducing the amount of text on each screen, one user commented that it felt text-heavy, and so further refinements may be needed in this area.

We also compiled a list of “blue-skies” ideas for further development of the exhibit, which were not within the scope of our placement. We look forward to seeing how the exhibit continues to develop.

In addition to this project, we had the opportunity to work with Circuits! to develop an instruction sheet that will be used at a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) day, based at the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre in Dunfermline. This will be used by secondary school science teachers who are piloting an activity based on soundwaves, and it will be available on the SSERC website. We found it really exciting to be a part of this partnership work and to play a small role in this project.

From the beginning we felt welcomed and supported by the Proteus team, but we have also appreciated the independence, flexibility, and creative freedom we have been allowed throughout. Helen and Amy’s enthusiasm has been infectious, and we are inspired and excited to work in the field when we graduate.

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Related External Links:

MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement at the University of Edinburgh

Glasgow Science Centre

IntuiLab

Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC)

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