Final Internship Report
Children's Museum of Walla Walla
Everyday Science was an exhibit I created for the Walla Walla Children's Museum. I must admit I was worried and a little skeptical about how I was going to make an exhibit on my limited hours I had available to work. From the start, I told my sponsor Karen Smith that I would only be able to work on my project on weekends and I received supportive and positive feedback. This project has proven to be a very interesting experience. This exhibit allowed me to show my creativity. I feel that the exhibit will benefit the children greatly. Overall, I have been very pleased with my progress throughout the semester and the way things have turned out. I have accomplished my main goals and objectives. My main goal was to educate the children about the environment by building environmental awareness at a young age.
The first thing I did was identify my goals and objectives that I wanted to accomplish. My primary goal was to grab the children's interest in the environment with my exhibit in order to build environmental awareness. I think environmental awareness is important so that as children get older they will be environmentally conscience. I wanted the children to have a fun, hands-on, and educational experience when they see the exhibit. By making learning about the environment fun, children are more likely to retain the concepts that the exhibit will demonstrate. I wanted to find the most effective, fun, and creative methods so that the children's understanding and appreciation would be exposed. The exhibit itself could be viewed as a catalyst and expose the environment to the children so that they can in turn make a difference in their futures.
So much of my time was dedicated to research. I thought I would come up with a couple of ideas and go, I was wrong. It was a lot of work just thinking of ideas, and possible themes for the project. From the start I wanted to relate the environment as the overall theme of the exhibit, I wanted to incorporate some chemistry but for my targeted audience it was best to keep it very limited. I liked the fact that Karen was very supportive of my ideas, she told me from the start that this was my project and that I could do whatever I wanted. We both agreed that the exhibit had to be a hands on type, and that it would require no adult supervision. This added another element to the project because I had to be very careful on what I would put on my exhibit. I decided that it would be best to identify my age group. I concluded that my age group should be around 8 to 10 years old. I assumed that they would be old enough to read for themselves and to understand what they were reading. In addition, I have decided that my theme would be on reusing and recycling common items around the home that children are normally exposed to. This project itself was divided into different periods: brainstorming, research, and building the exhibit itself. The way I outlined my project was so that I could develop an exhibit that would educate the children but would also allow them to independently figure out what was going on and identify the purpose for the projects selected. The project was designed so that the children could do fun, hands-on environmentally oriented activities. This allows the exhibit to give them useful information with less of a school learning feel. Each week I met with my supervisor Karen Smith. In these meetings, we brainstormed and discussed how the project was coming along. We would try to brainstorm ideas about environmentally relevant topics. Overall, I spent an average of about 4-6 hours a week with the project. The first project was the luminary project, children would build a luminary using an empty gallon of milk, most people drink milk, so finding a gallon of milk would not be hard to obtain. The purpose of this project was to show and educate children that they themselves can reuse everyday items and make cool things out of them, instead of throwing them away. One problem with this project was that I had to cut all the tops of the gallons of milk. In addition, I had to use alternative items, for example, I originally planned to use a flashlight, but instead I used these light emitting rocks, which were relatively inexpensive to light the empty gallon of milk. The great divide project would educate children on recycling. The project itself was a recycling plant that allowed children to categorize the items themselves. They would use for example a magnet to remove out the metals from the tray. There was a sheet to give them hints, but not the procedure itself, the purpose for doing this was to allow the children to figure things on their own. The final project that was on display was the natural dyes; children would use the dyes that were already made for them to decorate clothes available to them. This was hard to setup because at first we were going to show them samples. I thought there was no point in doing that because I felt that the children would get a better understanding if they tried out the project for themselves. I made the dyes from food items such as cabbage, cranberries, orange peels, and spinach leaves. They could mix and match colors to create new ones if so desired. Again, this project educated children on reusing items. I think the overall theme is reusing common household items because all the items I used from the exhibit are things you already have in your household. Everything the children see in the exhibit they should be able to identify, that was my intention. I have also added a coloring book to the exhibit, so when children leave they will have a coloring book educating them about earth's natural recyclers. It was originally intended to coincide with the water/soil project, but because of limited space, it was not put on display.
Projects that did not make it into the exhibit were the paper recycler project. The children would recycle there own paper. The reason it did not go on display was more of the museum not letting me because that was my first project that I originally intended to do. Karen's main concern was that the children would get out of control with the apparatus and make a mess all over the museum. Therefore, we decided that the paper recycler apparatus was a huge liability that the museum would not allow. The project itself can be used in the future such as a workshop or taught in a class. Another project that did not make it was the water/soil project, in the beginning this project was actually two, but I combined them, but again because of space limitations, this project did not go up. I had other ideas but because of my age group and the museum's requirements (and budget), I was not able to pursue them. I understand, some of these things could have caused harm to the children, and the purpose of the exhibit is for them to enjoy not getting hurt. These were only ideas and did not get past the preliminary stages. Also, I started working on translating my captions over thanksgiving break, but I did not do it for all the projects because of space limitations, but in the end, I decided not to use them because it did not make sense to put Spanish captions for only certain projects.
Things that have gone right, well for the most part everything turned out according to plan. I did a lot of planning ahead of time. I kept in contact with my sponsor. I made it a habit to make meetings, and keep my sponsor informed of what I was doing. Since the project was my responsibility, there was a lot of pressure on me to finish the exhibit. I think that was the main reason why I spent so much time doing research. I wanted to make sure I had sufficient materials and ideas for the exhibit think I was very organized, and came up with well-structured designs and projects that stimulated the interest and curiosity of the children. The main reason I think the children will learn so much from this exhibit will be because I was constantly trying and testing out my ideas throughout the semester. By the end of the exhibit, the children will have a firm grasp of the material that will be presented. I knew that I had completed my objectives for the semester when Karen said she was very happy on the commitment I had made. She said that the children will apply the concepts that the exhibit will teach them. The exhibit will give these children a solid foundation in environmental education.
In the beginning, I had few difficulties but as the project went along there were apparent ones. A few scheduling difficulties prevented me from putting up my exhibit earlier than I would have liked. Toward the end of the semester, things got very crazy, so I was not able to work on my exhibit during that time. Granted I was finished with the projects themselves but had not put up the exhibit itself at the museum. I had to wait for approval by the museum's director. In addition, money was an issue that I had initially foreseen as a difficulty but found ways to get around them. In fact, I think this actually motivated me even more to find projects that could be done without the use of money. Everything in my exhibit was made from things we normally throw away or things that are lying around the house.
For all future interns, there are some project outlines left with my supervisor. In addition, I created a lesson plan to teach a workshop at the museum. I think this project affected me in a good way and I was able to see the progress of my work as the semester went on. I am very pleased to have been able to teach children about the environment. I feel that the children from the Walla Walla community will benefit from my exhibit.
This website was instrumental during my brainstorming period. It is the EEK homepage, http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/index.htm
This was where I came up with the idea of the water conservation project to coincide with the soil project. I had done the soil project as a kid, so I was familiar with the procedure. This website is known as the water cycle page, but has very useful trivia and facts.
There was a publication I used known as Wonder Science, it had some great activities for children that they could do.
I looked through many sites for ideas, but unfortunately, I did not book mark them, but they were only used during the brainstorming process, so if they were extensively used I would have sited their location. I have also attached the coloring that will be used at the museum.