I recently had the privilege of completing a residency at a kindergarten class at the Environmental Charter School. The class was exploring simple machines, such as pulleys, gears, inclined planes, wheels and axles, etc. I was asked to help plan and co-teach with their teacher, Jen. I always enjoy visiting schools. Typically, classes come to the Museum to explore and learn, but it’s extra special when when the Museum comes to you.
Jen and I spent some time coming up with a challenge for the students to work on. She wanted to assess how well the students work in pairs and a design challenge is a great way to get students to work as a team.
The challenge was to get a ball from one place to another without touching it. We provided the students with a wide variety of material to use and explore. The students first brainstormed ideas as a group, then spent three days testing out different ways to solve the problem. It was very beneficial that I made several visits to the classroom. I got a chance to know the students and pick up on some of Jen’s teaching style. This familiarity really helped when the students visited the Museum to work on this challenge in a different environment.
I also got to test out some prototypes with the students. Jen told me that the students knew about gears, but had not yet explored actual gears and what they could do. It just so happened that I have been working on a gear exploration prototype. I was able to bring this into the classroom and it really helped the kids to better understand gears.
This whole experience of being able to visit this classroom has been so rewarding. We are so used to schools visiting the Museum once a year for one day. It makes a lot more sense for the Museum to visit the classroom along with the classroom visiting the Museum. This focused design challenge with the Environmental Charter School demonstrates how effective a space like MAKESHOP can be when it comes to expanding a teacher’s curriculum. The whole Museum is full of opportunities for this sort of focused field trip.
Thanks again to Jen, her students, and the Environmental Charter School.
If you are interested in the options for museum programs at your school, then please contact us!