Embodied interactions in a science museum

Neta Shaby, Dana Vedder-Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Informal science learning environments, such as science museums, afford a variety of interactions, sense-making processes, participation modes, and roles. Accumulating research advances our understanding of the cognitive and affective dimensions of science learning in informal environments, including the development of scientific sense-making and identity. Despite the variety of opportunities informal settings uniquely afford for physical interactions (particularly relatively to classrooms) and the importance of physical interactions in these settings, research of embodied sense-making and identification in informal settings is scant. In this study, we take a multimodal analysis approach to explore the ways by which visitors' bodies participate in their interactions with each other and with the exhibits at an Israeli science museum. We employ Goodwin's (2007) Embodied Participation Framework to micro-analyze one episode of three visitors engaging with the Pulleys exhibit. The analysis points to the ways in which the physical design of the exhibit shaped the physical interaction. This interaction included embodied sense-making that shaped and was shaped by the visitors' embodied positioning and identification. The study advances the understanding of interactions in science museums by directing attention to the physical interaction rather than focusing solely on verbal interaction and thereby highlighting the role of embodiment. It further illustrates the ways in which video-based field studies coupled with a relevant multimodal analytic framework can explicate the interactional organization of engagement with objects in informal science learning environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)938-960
Number of pages23
JournalScience Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021


  • embodiment
  • informal learning environments
  • multimodal analysis
  • physical interactions
  • science museums

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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