"The great fat debate" was an exhibition experiment with the primary purpose to encourage debate and discussion rather than to convey facts.

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   Description of the Experiment   

The texts of the panels were headed:

  • Science isn't always black and white....

  • What is Olestra?

  • Where can I buy Olestra?

  • Why eat Olestra?

  • Is Olestra always good for you?

The touch-screen based computer interactive allowed visitors to 'ask' three different questions to three experts, and then vote on similar questions themselves.
The visitors were then encouraged to write down their comments on a paper. Those answers/comments were collected and are shown and evaluated in the report.

   Duration   

The observation study showed that the visitors who stopped at the exhibition stayed for between one and three minutes.

   Conclusion   

The exhibition was a great success. It proved very popular with the visitors, attracting and holding them for longer periods than is usual for exhibits of this size.

The quality of the visitor comments (documented in the report) indicates that visitors got a lot from the exhibition. In addition, it was an opportunity to experiment with different formats of visitor feedback and prove that this is a form of exhibition that visitors benefit from and enjoy using.

   Detailed Conclusion   

In the past few years museums and Science Centres have recognised the importance of engaging visitors in dialogue concerning issues of science, technology, industry and medicine.

Not only does this create a more involving atmosphere, increasing motivation and encouraging greater learning, but it also follows the general trend in recognising that it is not only scientists who have a valid opinions about science and technology