Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Informal Science / The Role Of Museums, Zoos, and locations outside of school

Informal Science

The Role Of Museums, Zoos, and locations outside of school

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Carmen Cruz Carmen Cruz 2125 Points

Museums help inspire creativity within students and allow them to make real world STEM connections each and everyday. Great place for kiddos to attend!

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

Thank you for that information, Adah. I started working part-time for the Chicago Botanic Garden this past year, and I plan to co-present at the Chicago NSTA conference to show how we support and share responsibility for student learning on plants and environmental issues. Your research will be welcome information to read. Carolyn

Dorothy Ginnett Dorothy Ginnett 28250 Points

Hi Adah - Thank you for starting this important topic. Many modern zoos are involved in wildlife conservation, captive breeding programs and wildlife research.

The animals in the zoos can be considered to be 'ambassadors' for their species. Children (and adults) need to connect with a species before they can truly learn to care for it.

Here are a few NSTA Articles
Eduzoocating Children - Science Scope

Our Zoo to You - Science and Children

Who's in the Zoo? - Science Teacher

It's a Zoo out There - Science Teacher

Joseph Schick Joe Schick 14660 Points

Thank you for all the great resources and numbers, I believe that hands on eyes on learning does a great deal better than classroom teaching. I try to go on as many field trip throughout the year as possible to get the students engaged as much as possible.

Michelle Alban MIchelle Alban 3095 Points

Adah, thank you for sharing these resources! I am currently an undergrad student, working on getting my certificate in elementary education. Knowing that 80% of the students learn outside of the classroom, parents might be more inclined to help their students. I will definitely use these resources in the future, and hopefully in my future classroom. I believe that parent involvement is important, and sometime parents just aren't sure how to hep their children. These resources will definitely come in handy! Thanks again! Michelle

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points

And don't forget that museums, zoos, science centers, etc. are great places for teachers to learn, too. Many have programs geared for teachers with content experiences and ideas/resources for the classroom.
Mary B

Olivia Pederson Olivia Pederson 30 Points

Hi Mary!

I am currently an undergraduate student, studying 3-6 Montessori Education. You make a really good point about teachers learning from these experiences as well. I had not thought about how it could benefit teachers by going to these types of places. I think that the amount of resources available there would be really helpful for planning the specifics of field trips or just giving ideas for potential lesson plans. When I begin teaching, I will definitely have to keep this in mind for myself, as well as my students.

Alexsandra Batard Alexsandra Batard 965 Points

I question why this must be and if it varies by the age of an individual.  I, as a previous Pre-K teacher, always went above and beyond in teaching and sharing with them new and intriguing topics that they had never heard of or imagined to exist.  I made these efforts to help them grow and develop a mind that is curious and eager to learn, while also being able to think outside the box.  Therefore, when attending these places, they found it fascinating while behaving throughout.  With the tremendous advancement in technology, more and more individuals are seeking education and pleasure through usage and dependence on technology, and most of the time, do not see the value or fun in attending these public education opportunities and places. Therefore, I think it is beneficial and great learning opportunities outside of the classroom that touch all forms of development, but may vary on the child's overall past experiences and exposure. 

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

I now work during the school year as a field trip instructor for the Chicago Botanic Garden. I wish I had realized this gem down the road from my school district when I was a public school teacher.  The school groups that come to our LIVING museum, are able to interact with nature in a way they can't back at their schools.  It is not just an opportunity to get out of the school building for a day-it is a chance to observe natural phenomena up close and in person within 385 acres of prairie, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and woodland areas. In the fall and spring, the fruit and veggie island is a place where children are able to see a variety of foods growing and maturing.  There are bee hives and bat houses; a Cove and Butterfly Pavilion; a state-of-the-art plant and science center with roof top gardens; and a children's growing garden where children are encouraged to harvest whatever may be ready at the time. School groups can come as self-guided groups or register for one of our many 60- or 90 minute guided programs. I hope others will investigate the opportunities for taking their students on these types of field trips. Most museums have made great strides in planning engaging, inquiry experiences that are already aligned to the NGSS. I would love for others to share those museums and informal learning venues near them.  Perhaps this might be a place to check and see what is in "your neck of the woods".

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points

There are many opportunities in our own neighborhoods! Thanks for the suggestions.

Julia Uribe Julia Uribe 615 Points

There is nothing better than having children apply what they learn in school outside of the classroom. It allows children to share their knowledge with their families in a fun environment. I recall taking my nine year old nephew to the zoo and him sharing his knowledge of reptiles and how to tell if a snake was poisonous or not. He shared what he’d learned in school and was able to apply it in his “real” life. Taking children to Places where they can experience science in a fun and hands on place helps them retain the information they learn in the classroom. That’s why believe that we need to foster what children learn in school with activities that can correlate with their lessons.

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