Introduction: Magdalena Novak

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What are the main topics of your work?  

I have been working as a research assistant in the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien since September 2017. In July 2021, I completed my PhD with the title “Touch this wisely – you may want to know more … How the haptic sense may enhance learning experiences and learning outcomes” and since then I am working as a postdoc in the topic area of informal learning. From 2017 to 2021, I conducted research on visitor-oriented presentation of controversial content in museum contexts as part of a DFG knowledge transfer project. Out of this project, the website AUSSTELLUNGEN KONTROVERS was created. In the future, I would like to further expand my research on haptics and couple it with VR/AR applications. Of course, I am also looking forward to doing research directly in the museum.

What is most fascinating about the field of informal education to you? 

What I find particularly fascinating about informal education or informal learning settings is the variety of offerings. There are so many different and creative exhibitions and educational activities that address and engage different target groups. I also find informal learning settings very exciting from a researcher’s perspective, because the focus is not only on education and learning. During a visit to a museum, an experience can arise that, with all its (sensory) impressions, can have an impact for a long time afterwards. 

What was your first experience with the institution “museum”? 

My first, very impressive memory of a visit to an exhibition was a visit to the traveling exhibition “Mathematik zum Anfassen” by the Mathematikum (Gießen), which was set up in the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum (Dresden) in 1999. There were an incredible number of exhibits to try out, puzzle and discover for yourself, which were intended to introduce the audience to various mathematical topics in a playful way.  

I was particularly fascinated by the “giant soap bubble skin”: If you pull on a rope in this exhibit, you are wrapped in a beautiful soap tunnel that gets closer and closer to you and then finally bursts. Huge fun for young and old alike. Of course, as an elementary school child, I didn’t realize what this had to do with mathematics… Here’s an explanation: