Think about the last time you sat in a waiting room. Where were you? At the doctors office? At the mechanics? At the airport? At the dentist’s office? How long were you there? What did you do to pass the time until you were called in? Let’s consider the doctor’s office. Anyone who has gone to a doctor’s office has probably had an experience in a waiting room. That waiting room probably had some pamphlets in it, maybe posters regarding relevant diseases or treatments, and even a TV that may or may not have been showing specially prepared programming.

Envision this waiting space as an active and social learning environment rather than a holding area with educational accents. Shift the role of these materials from wallflower information pieces to engaging interactive experiences. Dramatically reimagining the waiting room experience with what we already know from museums provides patients with inviting educational centerpieces that they can use together, repeatedly, and, most importantly, enjoyably.

In this research project, I consider the role of the waiting area as an informal learning environment where people can learn about relevant topics. In my initial study case, I focus on pediatric clinics and how patients and their families can learn about their bodies and health. I believe that the location and wait time provide an opportunity for educating patients on relevant health matters, and that health education is not properly considering the resources and materials available in this space. Through this research I aim to illustrate the current waiting experience, and highlight the similarities between this space and museums.

This work focuses on developing digitally enhanced tangible materials that create a substantial connection with the child through familiarity and accessibility in waiting rooms. I offer Active Waiting Education (AWE) which brings Active Prolonged Engagement exhibits into the waiting rooms to promote engaging and effective learning. I design exhibit style pieces that allow for easy and accessible group collaboration while promoting inquiry and exploration of a relevant health topic.