This paper investigates the different forms of social interaction that emerge between young science centre visitors (aged 9–14 years) around a specific computer-based exhibit, which, like most computer-based exhibits, prioritizes an individual user. Based on video recordings, the paper shows that these young visitors, unlike adults, engage in various forms of co-participation around the exhibit. The empirical analysis compares different degrees of participation among the participants, ranging from minimal to full participation. The analysis shows that the affordances of a computer-based exhibit do not impose themselves upon visitors’ actions at that exhibit. While the exhibit has a preferred use – a ‘prescribed interaction’, which prioritizes an individual user – the schoolchildren in the study mould what may seem like natural functions of the exhibit.
Journal: "Social Studies of Science"