We divided into two groups when we got there. There was a slight delay as the museum staff confiscated all the scissors from the pupils pencil cases then off we went to the Human Body exhibit. Great fun was had around the genetics and reproduction bit and we enjoyed re-entering the womb. We pulled leavers to learn about muscles and bones and then learned about the brain. The exhibits were hands on and multimedia but we had to intervene quite a lot to get any learning out of the experience. Next the dinosaurs which was all thrills. Some effort had been made to make the exhibit educational but it was a lot of shock and awe.
But this was not the aim of the visit. we were there to take part in an hands-on investigation centre experience. This was lead by an enthusiastic young lady ably helped by 3 other informed and helpful assistants. The children were really in to it. They devised questions, interrogating what they saw and the museum staff helped them go deeper with their investigations. Half way through they were allowed to search on computers to answer some of their questions about the exhibits that didn’t involve measuring and drawing. Everyone was fully engaged and learning. The interaction with the staff was fantastic. An hour was soon over and everyone left happy.
What’s my point? Well the next exhibit we visited was the cocoon. A huge white egg of a thing encased in glass built on the end of the museum, a part of the Darwin Centre. It was high tech. Each of us had a card which collected what we had found through interrogating consoles about the exhibit. We could then log on to a web site when we got home and find out more. It was hard work. As teachers we had to direct and guide so that the children would get something out of this circus. The exhibit was beautiful and packed with activity and opportunity to wonder. My point is, it took time to access the exhibit; there needed to be intervention. The technology didn’t work without the human element.
I was proud to be the teacher and really pleased with my students as they experienced our value as well as the value of the experience.