A cross-cultural comparison of high school students' responses to a science centre show on the physics of sound in South Africa

Public Underst Sci. 2017 Oct;26(7):806-814. doi: 10.1177/0963662516642725. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


We report on the attitudes and ideas developed by students from three distinct school groups to a science show about sound. We addressed two research questions: (1) How do the students compare with respect to their (a) attitudes to the sound show and to science in general and (b) changes in conceptual understanding as a result of the show and (2) what changes could be made to the show, and to science shows in general, that would be sensitive to the cultural and language differences of the groups? These were addressed by multiple-choice, pre- and post-tests comprising both attitudinal and conceptual questions. Our results pointed to a common enjoyment of the show but a different understanding of concepts and consequent learning, which suggest that science shows (and science teaching) need to be adjusted to accommodate different cultural groups for maximum impact.

Keywords: cultural background; language in science; physics of sound; science centres; science shows.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent*
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Physics / education*
  • Public Opinion
  • Science / education
  • Sound
  • South Africa
  • Students / psychology*