Academic journal article Childhood Education

Museums and School Change: Making the Connection

Academic journal article Childhood Education

Museums and School Change: Making the Connection

Article excerpt

To a large degree, current debates over ever-changing education reforms were defined decades ago. They continue to shift, however, keeping up with the demands of recent opinions. Leading educators continue trying to find the best ways to make student learning more meaningful. Reform movements now focus on hands-on, authentic, and active group interactions that tap into children's intrinsic curiosity and eagerness to learn.

Forming partnerships with local museums has become one response to the demand for stronger interaction between schools and communities. Museums are largely underutilized educational resources, with a vast potential to revitalize education.

Activities that take place in our K-6 Museum Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota, are a blend of formal and informal learning experiences. The core curriculum is based on the reasoning that the steps used by exhibit developers at the Science Museum of Minnesota (collecting, researching, experimenting, and presenting) can invigorate children's creativity and critical thinking skills. In addition, district-level text-adoption and grade-level standards provide for a stimulating, creative, and interdisciplinary approach to student learning across the curriculum.

The Museum Process Wheel is a crucial tool developed to guide teachers and students through the museum process. This spiraling wheel, which shows how students' interest is engaged through the museum process, is divided into four steps: 1) Explore through careful observation, research, and a willingness to see things in new ways; 2) Experiment by asking "why" and "what if" and by taking risks to test possible answers; 3) Explain the results of the discoveries by working collaboratively to identify patterns and make new connections; and 4) Exhibit new understandings in a variety of formats, using multiple communication media and tools. …

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