The Role of Powerful Agricultural Exhibits
In this post, we’re going to give you some practical tips for how to optimize your own exhibit or display. But first, we want to remind you of the reason why visual agricultural exhibits are such a crucial part of teaching the farm to fork connection. This discussion will bring us all the way back to good old-fashioned memory tools.
Visual Learning in History
Just as humans have long used simple tunes as memory tools, history has also shown that images and pictures are a tried and true aid to the mind. Like modern pre-school books, the McGuffey Primers from the 1830s relied heavily on the pictorial representations of words to help children learn vocabulary. Centuries before, both cave dwellers and the Egyptians used pictures to document and remember events.
So, like memory songs, memory pictures also have a long history.
And it turns out that there’s actually a real reason for this. The practice of using visual elements in order to learn and remember things has lasted so long because it’s actually very effective.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at some research. And, if you’re part of the community that wants to help bring back agricultural literacy, this is something you should pay attention to. It will help you as you create your own agricultural exhibits.
The Most Effective Learning Methods
Let’s first check out this frequently-cited diagram from the 1960s. It tells us that learners tend to remember only about 10% of what they read. (We won’t blame you, then, when you forget 90% of what you read in this post.) In contrast, people will remember 20% of what they hear and 30% of what they see. It’s possible that these percentages also correspond to the statistics that declare 65% of the population to be “visual learners.” Estimations of the world’s number of “auditory learners” range from 10% to 30% of the population.
Sometimes, a little bit of teamwork makes all the difference, though. As that same diagram also shows, people generally recall 50% of material that they both see and hear. That means that people who are new to the subject of agriculture will most likely remember five times the amount of material they both see and hear in a film, exhibit, or demonstration about agriculture than they would have remembered if they were simply reading a textbook on farming. And it’s even better if that exhibit or demonstration allows them to “model or simulate a real experience,” as the graph says. In that case, then the percentage of material they’ll remember will bump up to 70%. The thing that will get them 90% retention is actually performing the process itself.
With all of these statistics in mind, the prevalence of agricultural illiteracy starts to make a lot more sense.
Agricultural Education’s Biggest Problem
People are most likely to remember something if they engage in the activity hands-on. But less than 2% of the population is actually employed as farmers. As a result, not many people even have the chance to have a close encounter with agriculture. At best, a handful of people have read about agriculture. Maybe some have listened to ag-related lectures as a part of their schooling. But people who learn through these methods are likely to forget anywhere from 80% to 90% of that information. Despite formal “education” in agricultural topics, they’re left without the tools necessary to truly understand what happens with their food before it’s on their fork.
Six Tips for Effective Agricultural Exhibits
But a simple combination of visual, auditory, and experiential instruction easily bumps up retention. And this is where agricultural exhibits and displays come in handy. Here are 6 tips that you can refer to as you choose your own exhibit or display:
- Insert pictures and graphs. When you have blocks of text in your display, always insert supporting visuals, such as a funky graphs or artsy pictures.
- Utilize 3D sculptures. Use mannequins and real objects to tell a story. 3D depictions of important concepts or themes will stick with your visitors. Not only are they visual, but they replicate reality in a life-like way.
- Include interactive games and activities. Test your visitors’ knowledge with a fun quiz or make them practice an agricultural-related skill using objects or simulators.
- Use short films or slideshows. The films and slideshows should tell a story that complements your exhibit. They should help your visitors zero in on one or two of the main concepts that you would like your visitors to walk away with.
- Staff your exhibit. Give your exhibit a personal touch by populating it with knowledgable staff members who can answer questions and offer unique and personalized information to visitors.
- Make sure your exhibit is unified. Your exhibit should have a unifying concept that you’re trying to communicate or a design principle that connects each of the individual elements. By being creative and organized with your exhibit, you will show your visitors that you care about them and the things you are trying to teach.
For some examples of effective exhibits, check out some that we’ve done by visiting our custom products page.
The Rest is History
When you apply these principles to your agricultural exhibits, remember that you’re taking part in a long history of learning aids, going all the way back to the Egyptians and ancient cave drawings. So have fun joining the rest of history by teaching creatively through your own innovative exhibits.