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.
The goal of this collaboration was to offer authentic experiences for students to create their own learning through inquiry and problem-solving.”
In their initial explorations as part of the Innovation Learning Lab at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota, students from Dakota Prairie Elementary in Brookings, SD noticed many of the exhibit changes that had occurred at the museum.
They also wondered how those changes came to be.
“Why did the water exhibit get changed?”
“Where did the water tornado go?”
“Why did the cow get moved?”
The students, who ranged in age from Kindergarten to Third Grade, also wondered if they could make improvements to the exhibits they explored.
“How could we make that quieter?”
“What could we put in the place of the cow?”
“Why is there not a toy tractor when there are tire tracks?”
These questions led to a discussion about how and why the museum made changes to the exhibits and what things had to be considered when designing an exhibit for so many young guests. The students were then tasked with designing an exhibit to go in the museum’s Here Today, Gone Tomorrow traveling exhibit space.
Each group then spent time exploring the space, brainstorming ideas that provided the museum with something new and different in that space, and then finally designing the space to engage guests that represent a wide range of ages, abilities, and interests.
Four different groups, working on the same problem, came up with four very different exhibit designs for the traveling exhibit space.
- Movie Theater – Complete with an area for pretend concessions and stadium seating, this exhibit allows museum-goers to role play being an employee of the theater while providing excellent customer service or to be a customer looking to be entertained while watching a thrilling flick. The best part? The students planned that children would be the ones to create the movies that would show in the theater!
- Camping – Whether you are looking for tent camping under the stars or “glamping” in a cabin, this exhibit is designed to provide guests opportunities to explore the great outdoors without the bugs! Spend some time fishing in the pond or exploring the cave (but beware of the bear!) in this exhibit.
- Space – There is so much more to explore beyond our planet, and this exhibit lets guests learn about Space as they discover things about other planets and constellations. Take a seat in the rocket ship to be transported to another planet or walk through the Black Hole doorways and see where you end up!
- Gaming World –Video games for a variety of ages, board games for quieter competition, and a giant game of twister to keep you active, this exhibit is sure to engage all guests. There is even a specialty pool table designed for children!
The students showed a tremendous amount of creativity in designing their exhibits to meet the museum goals and exhibited great problem-solving skills that are required when you have a group project with many creative minds. With all of these well-thought-out options, the traveling exhibit is sure to thoroughly engage guests for the foreseeable future.