ABSTRACT This article reports on a study designed to explore how digital and physical reproductions of original artifacts could be incorporated into museum programs that teach visitors about mechanical motion. Museum visitors were introduced to 3 different types of models through 2 different programs: an engineering design challenge and an exhibit interpretation exploring mechanical motion in every-day objects. Research, based on visitor observation and interviews (n = 79), explored how user interaction with the digital and physical models compared with interactions with the original artifacts, assessed what effect the integration of digital and physical models had on learning, and examined what the learning experience looked like for learners using the mechanisms in the museum activities. Analysis of the learning conversations in additional in-depth case studies (n = 8) for both programs provides a detailed look at how visitors integrated the 3 different model types into their group's experience. Results showed that visitors' usage of, attitudes toward, and learning from the three different types of mechanical models varied based on the visitor or educators' perceived value of the particular model, which was impacted by the context in which the objects were presented.
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