During the 2018-2019 school year, in collaboration with the Brookings School District, South Dakota State University, and Children’s Museum of South Dakota, different school-aged children visited the Children’s Museum in a learning lab experience to spend time wondering how they could help solve real-world problems.
“How do the exhibits get changed?”
“Who picks the exhibits?”
“How do you decide what goes in each exhibit?”
These questions were posed during the exploratory visit to the Children’s Museum of South Dakota by Dakota Prairie Elementary School students. The students, Kindergarteners through Third Graders, were at the museum as part of the Innovation Learning Lab, where students experience the museum through Problem-Based Learning.
The short answer to their questions: A team does it. The longer and more engaging answer led them on an exploration on all of the elements that the museum looks for in the exhibits, how all of the exhibits connect, and what types of exhibits engage guests of a wide range of ages, abilities, and interests.
The long answer provided the students an opportunity to take an existing exhibit space and design a transformation of the space – one that meets the museum’s exhibit goals and would, most importantly, be fun for kids!
The results? A new exhibit plan devoted to animal care! From the check-in desk and the waiting area to the exam table, grooming spot, and x-ray station, these students considered every detail. The exhibit space is thoughtfully laid out to allow numerous museum-goers space and opportunity to explore the exhibit components and role-play as a veterinarian or as a customer waiting for your pet to be checked-out.
This exhibit plan has clear connections to the other exhibits on Kidstreet in that it is a business setting where guests can role play. Connecting to other exhibits that have animals, like the Farm and Our Place on the Prairie, makes this exhibit design even stronger and more cohesive.
Involving children in the design of exhibits at a children’s museum is a great way to use the expertise of the intended audience, and the museum is excited to implement the students’ creative ideas.