Attendance at Boston’s Museum of Science was at an all time high, but the administration, constantly committed to providing an entertaining and educational experience, wanted to create a new tool for teaching tourists about the power of data collection and analysis. In a world where polls, quick surveys, and data charts have become integrated into our daily lives, they felt it was important to be able to decipher and understand the process of data collection and analysis. The question was, how could they create an innovative and interactive exhibit that’s based on something that is often seen as a mundane part of everyday life? Administration felt that existing pen and paper data collection methods would not be an effective way to accomplish their objective of creating an interesting and enjoyable exhibit for visitors. They needed something that would fit in with the rest of the museum’s exhibits and give the museum the flexibility to change the way the exhibit works.
The museum’s project and IT teams began by conducting considerable research into data collection and survey software solutions. Searching for something that was scalable, high-speed, and flexible to their unique needs, the Museum of Science evaluated a variety of companies and tested trials of several off-the-shelf products. It quickly became evident that Checkbox Survey Solutions’ Checkbox® Mobile Solution was best suited for the task.
With the assistance of Checkbox Survey Solutions’ development staff, The Museum of Science’s project team was able to make their unique vision come to life. Together with Prezza, the museum’s team designed a one-of-a-kind exhibit to run in the museum’s Discovery Center areas, which are some of the most popular areas of the museum.
Checkbox Survey allows the museum’s administrators and researchers to design their surveys using a standard web browser. Once the surveys are designed and approved, they are deployed to the museum’s customer relations representatives. Using Symbol wireless-enabled Pocket PC handheld devices, the museum’s representatives can now collect data from visitors as they walk through the museum’s exhibits. Each time data is collected by Checkbox® Mobile, it is wirelessly transmitted back to the server using its built-in 802.11 wireless card, which connects to Cisco Atronet access points that are installed throughout the museum.
Once the data has been gathered back at the server, the museum’s researchers use Checkbox to prepare the data for analysis. Once analyzed, the results are relayed back to the Discovery Centers, where large LCD monitors display the results to the museum’s visitors.
The data varies based on the survey, but generally includes behavioral information about visitors’ interaction with a particular exhibit, including time spent at the exhibit and the visitors’ reactions to it. Demographic data, such as sex and age category, are also collected to determine trends in exhibit popularity.
Usability has been vital to the success of the exhibit. The easy to use, highly configurable interface of Checkbox allowed The Museum of Science to roll out the software with minimal training. “Prezza has created an easy to use tool that allows us to quickly get information in an often hectic informal teaching environment.” Tim Kardatzke, Senior Information Architect, stated. “Visitors are often just as interested in the survey forms as they are the data.”.
Checkbox Mobile Solutions, built on the same architecture as Prezza’s scalable Checkbox Survey, gave the researchers at The Museum of Science the features and flexibility they needed to create a popular and successful exhibit.