FC: Museum Visit Photo Essay Educational Programming for Museum Audiences Fabienne Powell Spring 2013 Johns Hopkins University
1: The New York State Museum http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ | Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/newmon/6358583223/ | Each year, spring break brings many families into museums. An outstanding percentage of those families will participate in unique educational programs (Wu, K., 2010) during their vacation time visit. This year, my daughter and I attended a family program at The New York State Museum's School Break: Spring Into the Museum. (http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/programs/holidayweek/)
2: Like most parents, I initially hear about successful museum programs through word-of-mouth. "Facilitators are highly susceptible to word-of-mouth recommendations from others...Since the goal of a Facilitator, particularly a Facilitating Parent, is to be seen as a good parent, and currently museums are widely viewed as excellent educational experiences for children..." (Falk, pp. 195) Word-of-mouth then led to me to search for more information about the programs available, in places like the Sunday Edition of our local newspaper (see above), the museum's website, or Facebook. | Photo Credit: Albany Times Union
3: The program we participated in, Snakes (see right), was geared for children ages 5 and older. The program goals are made clear on the museum's website, preparing the Facilitator: (http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/programs/holidayweek/) "Celebrate the year of the snake as you explore this fascinating reptile...2013 has been designated Year of the Snake by PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation)...Museum Educator Hatti Langsford will be honoring snakes of New York in this fun hands-on program."
4: After entering Classroom 4, while waiting for a short presentation to begin, families gravitated towards the hands-on table (see left). Here we were able to view models of different snakes native to New York State, touch snake skins, and receive the directions to a habitat hunt activity prior to the presentation (see right).
7: "...learning is an internal process influenced by interactions with the environment and experiences of the individual." (Schaffer, pp.34) | Here is my daughter's hunt for possible snake habitats around the museum's Adirondack Hall, and connecting with the museum environment (see left and above).
8: Families returned to the classroom, telling our program leader about the many examples of snake habitat possibilities (see above). Though there weren't any written forms available to record these examples, the verbal return may help measure the effectiveness of the habitat hunt activity.
9: Hatti began her presentation on snakes by telling a fictional story (see below), which sparked everyones' imagination, empathy, and engagement. The audience of families were then led to explore and discuss topics, such as, types of snakes native to New York State, their habitats, anatomy and behavior, reproduction, and the importance of conservation.
10: For each topic discussed, Hatti showed visual examples during a slide show (see right).
11: After, Hatti carried a Milk Snake through the audience to let people see and feel a live specimen (see left and right).
12: Our program leader then brought the Milk Snake back to its' tank at the table. There she continued to answer the audience's questions (see left). She also let people know where they could look for more information about snakes (e.g. through visiting websites, like PARC's, with their parents).
13: Notes and Continued Analysis Program: Goals that were clearly defined on the museum website (to explore and honor this fascinating reptile), as well as the overarching educational goals of the New York State Museum and PARC, were accomplished in each activity of the program, inside and outside of the classroom, through the combination of hands-on and minds-on activities, exploration that exemplified "kinaesthetic thinking", collaborative learning, and the program's ability to spark interest and engagement (Piscitelli, et al). Our senses were engaged to deepen our understanding of the topic, increasing the possibilities of long-term learning, meaning-making, and memories.
14: Notes and Continued Analysis Setting: This was a walk-in program, and the presentation that I experienced was given three times in its' 1-3pm time slot, which was good, because the classroom was crowded and hot. The uncomfortable environment prompted many people to leave the room, chancing their return at a later time. Audience: Though the age group was 5+, many families had younger children along. with them (some under 2 years). Their stays were the shortest.
15: Notes and Continued Analysis Marketing: It was obvious that the museum puts a large amount of faith in newspaper and word-of mouth. When arriving at the museum, there was absolutely no signage alerting people to the special programs available that day. Had I not known about the program before arriving at the museum , I'm not sure we would have realized that they were taking place. Also, the program leader works for PARC. Though the official collection or permanent exhibit does not contain any snakes, this was a great opportunity for PARC and the NY State Museum to collaborate, extending both institutions' visitor base.
16: References Wu, K., Holmes, K., & Tribe, J. (2010). 'Where do you want to go today?' An analysis of family group decisions to visit museums. Journal Of Marketing Management, 26(7/8), 706-726. doi:10.1080/02672571003780007 Shaffer, S. (2010). Cognitive development and learning. In D. McRainey & J. Russick (Eds.), Connecting kids to history with museum exhibitions (p. 34). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press. Piscitelli, Barbara, Everett, Michele, Weier, Katrina and the QUT Museums Colaborative. "Enhancing Young Children's Museum Experiences: A Manual for Museum Staff." 2003 http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/programs/holidayweek/ : New York State Museum Website, retrieved April 3, 2013 external photo credits: flickr.com/photos/newmon/6358583223/ Albany Times Union Sunday Edition, Events, March 31, 2013, Hirch Publishing