The Museum Trip of the Future: PS144 5th Graders Reinvent the Museum Field Trip
Considering that museum school trips have been part of my personal and professional life for a long while, I felt as a field, this was an area museum educators had mastered. Don’t we know for sure how to create maximum learning, joy and wonder in the single school trip? As I learned from 14 phenomenal 5th grade students, in fact, most museum trips are totally boring and far too restrictive. Totally boring and far too restrictive? As I heard this critique over and over, imaginary daggers jabbed through my heart. Again. And again. And ouch, yet again.
With Lois Olshan of PS 144 and Emmy Goldin, a Bank Street Museum Education student, I supervised a two-month museum trip redesign workshop in early 2012. First, students critiqued museum field trips (since Kindergarten, they have been on over 10) and then proposed six new concepts for the Museum Trip of the Future.
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, in front of over 300 museum educators from around the nation, they presented the six schemes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alongside such field leaders as Seb Chan, Trebor Schultz and Kylie Pepper, they kicked off the National Art Education Association Preconference for Museum Educators.
Below is the proposal for one fascinating solution – the Museum GPS – designed by four boys in the group. The transcript of the presentation, presented by one of the boys, Dev, accompanies some of their concept sketches.
Hello, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to the future of museum trips. I am Dev and I will be explaining about a new idea Jeffrey, Marshall, Feras and I made…..a GPS! No offense, some museums are boring and sometimes museum educators don’t make it any better. The teachers have to trap us in boring exhibits and don’t let us go to any of the fun exhibits.
This GPS is not any ordinary GPS, oh no. This GPS is composed of two main segments: the main console and the smaller GPS’s. The kids wear the smaller GPS’s on their wrists. The teacher just holds the big one. The kids can roam around and go wherever they want except in the restrictive areas. The wrist band has a touch screen that shows you where the restricted areas are. It’s like a real GPS, like an iPod Nano with touch screen features. The touch screen shows you where you can go and when you touch the name or picture it gives you directions. If a kid needs help, he or she can push the yellow “Help-Tape” to send an SOS signal to the teacher. If the teacher cannot help the student, she can alert a guard to do so. The main GPS has an alert a guard button. This benefits both the teachers and the students. It benefits the teachers because they can monitor the students while lounging in the café.
There are also activities that kids can do. We found out that most kids like to do scavenger hunts, so there will be a scavenger hunt programmed into the wrist band. You won’t need to fill out a piece of paper to answer it. You can just speak, and the answer will appear on the screen.
Don’t let kids stay stuck with their class. With the museum GPS we could go where we want to go. We would tell our friends about how cool the museum would be. Then we would think the museum is really enjoyable. Then we would like to go to museums more often.
Scroll through the entire presentation from PS 144 5th graders below to see the other innovative tour ideas they came up with.