SunDial: embodied informal science education using GPS

  • Megan K. Halpern Cornell University
  • Max Evjen
  • Dan Cosley
  • Michael Lin
  • Stephen Tseou
  • Erica Horowitz
  • Tejaswi Peesapati
  • Geri Gay
Keywords: GPS, museum, informal science learning, science center, handheld


Science centers serve a number of goals for visitors, ideally providing experiences that are educational, social, and meaningful. This paper describes SunDial, a handheld application developed for families to use at a science center. Inspired by the idea of geocaching, the high-tech treasure hunting game that utilizes GPS technologies, SunDial asks families to use a single handheld device to locate and participate in a series of learning modules around the museum. Observations of 10 families suggest that it supports rich informal science education experiences, provides insights about families’ interaction patterns around and with single handheld devices, and demonstrates the value of navigation as an educational experience. Further, using recently released guidelines for Informal Science Education (ISE) experiences to inform the design process proved valuable, tying features of the technology to educational and social goals, and giving evidence that explicit reference to these guidelines can improve ISE experiences and technologies.

Author Biography

Megan K. Halpern, Cornell University
Graduate Student in Communication Cornell University
How to Cite
Halpern, M., Evjen, M., Cosley, D., Lin, M., Tseou, S., Horowitz, E., Peesapati, T., & Gay, G. (2011). SunDial: embodied informal science education using GPS. MedieKultur: Journal of Media and Communication Research, 27(50), 18 p.