What’s New

Check out updates on the TERC blog for news from our recent travels.


Every parent, guide, docent, and educator knows it is tough to compete with a baby’s cry. Some researchers have claimed that it is impossible not to process auditory information. Everyday sounds are part of our lives. Some are personal, the sound of chewing, our footsteps. Some are are like the hum of a refrigerator, that is so expected that we don’t pay it much attention. And some noises are so shocking or annoying that we have to pay attention  

Sounds of all sorts can drastically change how we learn and interact in different settings.


The Objectives 

The Sound Travels team (partners and researchers) have four years to:  

1) Understand soundscapes as they exist in different informal learning environments like zoos, parks, and science centers. We need to identify specific spots, exhibits and programs to investigate  

2)Collect data, analyze, and interpret the relationships between sounds and learning  

  • What qualities of sounds attract attention? 
  • What qualities of sound hold attention? 
  • What qualities of sounds seem to connect with social learning (conversations, figuring out puzzles, learning together (siblings, caregivers and children)? 

3)Share findings with those who will help prioritize questions, laying the groundwork for future research.  

We expect to tease out relationships and then share insights to help informal STEM professionals design and plan for increased attraction, attention, and shared learning among visitors.   

Building on findings related to psychological impact Sound Travels approaches are well-aligned with the factors important for psychological impact (Lester et al., 2018) including attention to: 

–   the inter-related constructs of relevance, salience, attention, interest and engagement 

–   the relationships between attention and memory (recall and recognition) 

–   indicators of a higher sense of presence, which increases empathy and connection