Research & Evaluation

Visitors Drawings of Small 2007 Formative Evaluation

Report date: October, 2007



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General Description: 

This report documents a study conducted at the Exploratorium to characterize how visitors depict the concept of small. The study looks at visitors’ drawings in order to inform the design of diagrams, animations and other visualizations that help the public visualize and learn about the nanoscale in informal learning environments.

Major Findings: 

• About a quarter of the drawings included a small pencil mark, or dot, that was used to convey small, either in a comparison or simply to note that the small is invisible
• About 15% of the visitors tried to depict the actual size of the smallest object they could imagine.
• Visitors used macroscale objects in their analogies to convey the magnitude of the size differences between familiar objects and the very small.
• About 10% of the visitors used numbers somewhere in their drawings.
• Less than 10% of the drawings included the human body. The human was mainly used in zooms, as the largest object in a sequence of smaller and smaller objects.

Additional findings and more detailed explications can be found in the Results Section of the document, organized according to the different types of representations visitors drew to convey small.

Type of product(s) studied: 

  • Media

Method(s) of data collection: 

  • interviews


Joyce Ma

Associated product(s): 



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