What teachers say about museums

03/21/2011  | 
Museum Experience
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Visit a museum, open a newspaper, or log on to facebook and you will find quotations. They are used to summarize feelings, capture concepts, or make connections. In describing the variety of offerings for teachers and students at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, a glance at evaluations reveals quotations that reveal the quality and variety of programs.

“I felt that sense of empowerment that comes with experiencing and owning facts. I feel that I’ll be able to teach these topics with more conviction.”

“I feel energized! I am renewed in spirit and feel the excitement and joy I
used to feel in the classroom.”

 

The museum offers a wide variety of professional development opportunities, from day long adventures in local parks, to weekend long workshops around the state, to national and international institutes. Although the length of the experience may vary, they all have one thing in common, learning in the field. Watching the magnificent display of thousands of Snow Geese returning to Pungo Lake or intently observing a baby sea turtle making its way from its nest to the sea, teachers gain new knowledge of the natural world, and a deep appreciation for diversity. They also provide opportunities for reflection and renewal, an unexpected outcome from most teacher workshops.

“Wonderful, engaging teachers! Excellent critical thinking questions for the children. The children loved
touching the animals!”

“Thank you for engaging my kids! It goes along exactly with what
we have been covering.”

Curiosity Class programs at the Museum are designed to excite and educate students through hands-on inquiry learning, while aligning with standard curriculum goals. Through the use of live animals, study skins and dynamic activities, the programs tap into children’s natural curiosity and help them gain a respect and understanding of the natural world. Curiosity Classes are targeted to students in grades Kindergarten through five, but there are many other educational opportunities for all grade levels, including Discovery Fun (Pre-K through first) and Natural History Investigations (fifth through 12th). Many groups combine an exploration of the four floors of exhibits in the Museum with a program to make full use of their field trip time.

“I think that the distance learning experience was awesome. It was really
neat to connect with someone
who is so far away.”

You don’t have to come to the museum to take advantage of the programs offered, you can easily access a wealth of resources through the museum’s Web site and videoconferencing capabilities. Exploring North Carolina, an award winning television series highlighting the natural history of the southeast, is available for free from the Museum’s Web site and itunes University. Teachers are finding it particularly useful. Not only can you view the entire program, they can use segments of the show to teach particular topics.

Each show has been divided into chapters, for example the “Basin Basics” show features chapters about the river basins in North Carolina, interbasin transfer, the biology of basins and how we can help protect them. A more interactive learning experience is offered through videoconferencing classes. Prior to a program, the museum mails a set of real objects to the school for use during the class. The students use these materials much as they would in a face-to-face program — making observations, recording data, and using supplied reference materials to learn more. The use of hands-on materials during distance learning has been shown to decrease the sense of distance that students might feel when participating in a remotely broadcast program.

“I personally enjoyed the entire morning, all of the activities....Again, thank you for making our day out a wonderful learning experience. We hope to
be back again next year.”

Consistently ranked in the top 10 museums in the nation, and the top field trip destination in the state, the museum has enhanced people’s understanding of the natural world for more than 130 years. Technology allows teachers and students who can’t get here in person to tap into the educational resources available. Join the museum in one of the educational opportunities, and you’ll be inspired to write your own “quotation” about the experience.

For more information please visit www.naturalsciences.org
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