Case study: Discover the Deep at Dynamic Earth
Dynamic Earth is Edinburgh’s world-class Science Centre and Planetarium, telling the epic story of planet earth from beginning to mend.
Dynamic Earth’s new Discover the Deep exhibition was officially opened in June 2022. Its galleries cover four interconnected themes that allow visitors to explore Scotland’s scientific, natural and historic deep-water marine heritage within the wider holistic story of our Earth.
Scotinform was first commissioned by Dynamic Earth in 2019 to inform development of the Discover the Deep exhibition capturing thoughts on the key themes and interpretation methods. We were recommissioned in 2022 to repeat the study and again in 2023 to conduct a summative evaluation of the exhibition. Findings from the summative evaluation featured in a detailed report for National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF).
The formative elements of the research (in 2019 and 2022) took the form of online questionnaires which were distributed by Dynamic Earth across its social media networks and channels. Scotinform also distributed the survey link to its Cultural Panel of approximately 600 panellists. The findings provided invaluable insight into awareness of the oceans (including those around Scotland) and scientists as well as respondents’ behaviour regarding the environment (i.e. awareness of carbon footprint, likelihood of selecting sustainable food when shopping or eating out). The questionnaires also provide feedback to inform the development of interpretation in the new exhibition.
The summative evaluation of Discover the Deep included both qualitative and quantitative research. Scotinform worked with Dynamic Earth to deliver an evaluation programme which captured feedback from a range of stakeholders. Summative evaluation included:
Training delivered by Scotinform to raise awareness of evaluation and selecting appropriate methodologies for each stakeholder group. Following the training, Scotinform deliver an evaluation toolkit to which the Dynamic Earth team could refer to during the project. It has also served as a legacy of the study.
Data captured via the Evaluation Station located at the end of the exhibition to better understand visitors’ behaviour as a result of their Discover the Deep experience. This was an interactive touchscreen inviting visitors to select their current behaviour regarding oceans and environment and what changes they may make to this behavour having been better informed by the exhibition. The Evacuation Station was an innovative approach and not one that Scotinform has seen in any research it has previously conducted of this kind. We advised Dynamic Earth on the questions to be included.
An exit survey, featured on a static tablet located outside the shop at Dynamic Earth, to capture feedback from visitors about their Discover the Deep and overall visit experience.
Qualitative research conducted with visitors to Dynamic Earth. These mini groups/paired interviews (including families) took place in the cafe and captured feedback on the overall visit experience but specifically comments on Discover the Deep. The groups captured learning outcomes and impact on behaviour with regards to the oceans and environment.
In addition Dynamic Earth staff used online surveys to capture feedback from those who took part in their extensive outreach programme which ran in schools and community centres across the country.
Scotinform pulled together all the information captured through the summative evaluation to prepare a detailed report for funders.
The study has highlighted the role of evaluation and this has become embedded in projects across Dynamic Earth. The findings informed funders of the extensive work Dynamic Earth had undertaken to deliver the aims, objectives and learning outcomes highlighted in their funding bid documents. The study will help inform future developments at Dynamic Earth.
“Working with Scotinform on Discover the Deep helped us ensure that the project was designed effectively with audiences in mind and that we learned as much as possible from the evaluation process throughout. I am proud to say that the project did deliver on its key purpose; to enhance ocean literacy at a time when the health of the ocean plays a vital role in creating a sustainable future for us and our planet – and that Scotinform were a valuable part of that process.”
Dr Hermione Cockburn OBE FRSE FRSGS
Scientific Director, Dynamic Earth
Research design is key at a study’s outset and we will adopt an approach best suited to our client’s needs.
We are passionate about evaluation and skill sharing. We work with clients to develop an evaluation plan at the study’s outset which is a key part of the evaluation process.
With a range of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to offer, we are able to design a bespoke, flexible research programme to suit all audiences.
Our Dynamic Earth evaluation report is being used as an ‘exemplar’ by NHLF.