Designing Exhibits for Local Science Centre

Students act as exhibit developers and work with content experts to create interactive museum displays that illustrate a scientific concept.

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I had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco's Exploratorium yesterday. One of the things the Exploratorium does really well is making science interactive - the science centre's visitors get to play with science to learn a concept. Interestingly, I noticed that the content of the museum was cross-disciplinary across STEAM subjects - science, technology, engineering, art, and math were all happening here (along with the humanities and social sciences, too!).

Inspired by the Prototype Project, a project my local science centre does in partnership with local schools, what if students had the opportunity to create exhibits that are playful and interactive, as the Exploratorium does? 

The Problem: Learning is contained within the four walls of the classroom and rarely reaches an audience beyond the teacher and classmates. This can result in a lack of purpose for learning.

The Insight: Students are intellectually and socially engaged when they have an authentic purpose for learning. 

The Solution: Students visit the local science centre for a field trip. Rather than learning about content while they're there, students will be focused on exhibit development and interactive display design. They will be gathering empathy for their design question: "How might we create interactive, playful science centre exhibits that cause delight and interest in patrons in learning scientific concepts?" Then, students will design exhibits using the design thinking process. They will ideate, prototype, and build. As they go through this design process, students will consult local community partners who are experts in the scientific fields of study, as well as exhibit developers. It would also be amazing if they could bring in test audiences to pilot the exhibit design and give feedback. The final culmination is a celebration of learning where the student-created exhibits will be on display for a period of time at the science centre where visitors can interact with them.

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