Term Paper: Children's Museum: Critical Analysis

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[. . .] There was also a retail shop and we bought eatables and enjoyed our visits to the museum (Kubota and Olstad, 225-234).

Benefits for visiting Children Museum Exhibit

Anecdotal evidence suggests that early visits to informal science learning institutions have great potential to awaken and sustain long-term interest in science. Many scientists and engineers have acknowledged the important influence of early visits to science museums and zoos on their career choices. Furthermore, Miller (273) reported that adults engaged in Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) careers participate in informal science learning experiences such as science museum visits more frequently than adults engaged in non-STEM careers (Miller, 273.). These individuals likely visit science museums with their spouses and children. This is significant because some evidence suggests that adults who visited science museums as children are more inclined to take their own children to museums and view museum visits as a worthwhile use of their leisure time (Hood, vol. 1). A clearer understanding the role science museum visits play in the lifelong science learning of individuals is needed, especially during early childhood when science museum visits are typically family events.

Recreational and Cultural Aspect

The visit to the Museum Exhibit has a recreational as well as educational value. The personal context of learning is composed of the diverse motivational and emotional cues that influence learning (Falk & Dirking, vol.1). Within the informal learning environments of museums, individuals are generally intrinsically motivated to learn. They usually attend museums by choice and they receive no rewards other than the pleasure of the experience. Furthermore, interest, the psychological construct that includes attention, persistence in a task, and continued curiosity, acts as a filter for the abundance of sensory input at museums (Falk & Dierking, vol. 1). Visitors pay attention to what interests them, and personal interests frequently arise from positive prior experiences with topics. The positive feelings, attitudes, and emotions surrounding prior experiences promote visitor interest, which in turn influences the specific museums and exhibits they choose to visit.

In museums, visitors often interact with each other and with socially-constructed tools, signs, and symbol systems. Each visitor brings to these interactions a unique complement of values, beliefs, and norms that influence his/her perceptions and behaviour. These values, beliefs, and norms are cultural products that are transmitted across generations from parent to child. For example, when parents take their children to museums to "do the museum," experience a new exhibit, or use the reading room; they are demonstrating the value of museums as places for learning.

Conclusion

Overall my experience of visiting the Children Museum Exhibit was good; I enjoyed it and learned many new things. In this new age of educational accountability, children science museums are a source of learning and recreation for children and families and help to enhance their knowledge. Meanwhile, educational programming targeting families and young children has become increasingly popular in science museums. Many science museums have invested significant resources developing exhibits, learning playgrounds, discovery rooms, and workshops specifically targeting families and young children.

So there is a need to design these exhibit keeping in view the learning and recreational needs of visitors as well as make them the design more user friendly. Furthermore, science museums need to clearly document the measurable learning outcomes of all of their visitors, including young children, in order to obtain and maintain funding sources. Learning in science museums is influenced by many factors, including visitors' personal characteristics (e.g., age, personal motivations, and prior knowledge), social interactions at exhibits, and the physical environment of the museum (Falk & Dierking, vol. 1).

References

Association of Children's Museums. "Stats and trends." (2009). Web. April 15, 2011, http://www.childrensmuseums.org/about/facts.htm.

Association of Science and Technology Centers "Science centre highlights." (2009) Web April 15, 2011, http://www.astc.org/about/pdf/Backgrounders/Highlights2009.pdf.

Allen, S Designs for learning: Studying science museum exhibits that do more than entertain. Science Education, 88(S1), (2004).S17-S33. Print

Falk, J.H., Moussouri, T., & Coulson, D The effect of visitors' agendas on museum learning. Curator, 41(2), (1998), 107-120. Print

Miller, J.D.. Public understanding of and attitudes toward, scientific research: What we know and what we need to know. Public Understanding of Science, 13(3), (2004). 273.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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