This week it has been hard to miss the emphasis of Curiosity in the media. Of course we love anything Curiosity related and it doesn’t get much more exciting than the Curiosity rover landing on Mars.

Over the next few years it will be transmitting its discoveries across the great expanse of space back to the NASA headquarters. And the amazing thing is that we can also see those same discoveries just by following the rover on Twitter or accessing the NASA website.

These discoveries may be important data or simply beautiful pictures of Mars like these:

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The sharing of media online is one of the best ways these days to allows lots of people to experience the same important moments.

This showcase of important moments was something we wanted our visitors to be able to do within our Curiosity Zone as well. Our main way of doing this was to advertise a hashtag and Tumblr sharing platform within the exhibition itself.

Now that we’re into the summer holidays it seems like a perfect time to see if any of these endeavours have been tried by our visitors.

It’s pleasing to see that the Twitter stream showcased on our exhibition wall is attracting some interest. Most of our tweets so far have fallen into two general categories of people either testing out the process, or announcing their enjoyment of the exhibition or centre as a whole.

However the Tumblr platform has had less uptake. This could be because of less familiarity or perhaps the lack of immediate reward such as with Twitter, where you can see your tweet on the exhibition wall almost immediately. Or simply a lack of experience from our visitors when it comes to uploading media.

In the original digital strategy design we included provision for a set of tablets that could be used by our Science Explainers to introduce visitors to the use of QR codes. As well as a sharing platform to showcase exhibition links such as video clips, or online games.

What we’ve now discovered is that these tablets have become key as a link between the visitors and our Tumblr website. The majority of the uploads now come from Science Explainers noticing interesting visitor creations or behaviours within the exhibition. Our marble run exhibit in particular has been an excellent showcase for visitor creativity.

For those of us who don’t get to spend as much time on the floor, this has meant the Tumblr page has become a great store of interesting exhibit interactions. We can browse the page occasionally and pick out interesting behaviours without needing to spend the time on the floor that our explainers do. Of course this would never replace full in depth evaluation, but it is still a great source of ongoing information.

We’re also discovering that our Curiosity Cabinet has garnered much more interest now that we’ve incorporated comment cards and pencils.

In contrast our online virtual cabinet, accessed by the accompanying QR codes, has had little use by visitors so far. Again an unfamiliarity with the format, or lack of visible output within the gallery could be responsible for this. Considering we’re only just nearing the end of the third month of opening though, there’s still a lot more observation and evaluation to be done.

For now though we’ll leave you with just a few of the interesting creations our visitors have produced:

And my personal favourite…

What are your thoughts on the use of QR codes and links to online content within exhibitions? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @curiousatlife

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