studies in Psychology in Vienna
since 2016 doctoral candidate at Kiel Science Outreach Campus
The role of mathematics in scientific exhibitions
Numerical information and mathematical concepts are an important part of communicating scientific information. Yet many people face difficulties in understanding quantitative and probabilistic information. How do people process such information? How can quantities, rates, and probabilities be adequately presented? May different ways of presenting numerical information influence how a socio-scientific issue is perceived? A large body of research on health decisions suggests that reducing the cognitive effort and drawing attention to important facts might substantially improve the accuracy of understanding and thus being capable of influencing decision-makings. This project aims to answer the question how to present numeric information to a wider audience in a way that would enable understanding and use of the information.
In the first study two exhibitions were analyzed: “Future Ocean” in Kiel and “energy.transitions” at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The former is an exhibition curated by scientists of the Cluster of Excellence “Future Ocean”. It deals with a variety of challenges posed on humans and society with regard to changes in the oceans. The second exhibition was curated by museum experts at the Deutsches Museum in Munich and conveys the concept of energy as well as the political project of energy transition and its effects on society. The numerical content was classified according to the education standards (Bildungsstandards) in mathematics as well as to the numeracy model used in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). In doing so the focus was on the mathematical concepts used in both exhibitions and on the Numeracy level required to understand the information.