Discovery Museum Announces New STEM Learning Resources for Teachers and Families

New tools and workshops support student and family learning during COVID crisis

Discovery Museum announced today the launch of Virtual Traveling Science Workshops (VTSW) and other teaching resources for schools, and Parent-Assisted STEAM Experiences (PASE), a set of in-museum and at-home learning resources and supports for families. Developed to address the educational constraints of the COVID crisis on schools and families, these resources will support student learning this school year and beyond.

Virtual Traveling Science Workshops – The Museum has launched Virtual Traveling Science Workshops (VTSW), a redevelopment of its popular in-school STEM workshops, with COVID-19 protocols and safety standards in place. VTSW are available for eight STEM topics including Magnets, Sound, Force & Motion, Weather & Climate, and more.  The workshops are for Kindergarten through 8th grade, for students either in the classroom or at home.

Virtual Traveling Science Workshops are taught by Museum educators, streamed live to encourage student interaction. Individual student materials are safely packaged and delivered to the school in advance of the workshop to allow for timely distribution to students, whether they will be in the classroom or at home. These workshops are available for booking now.

“We gained significant insight from teachers and school administrators this summer that helped us to understand their needs and the logistics of how best to deliver our Traveling Science Workshops within schools’ new COVID-19 protocols,” said Jill Foster, director of school and group programs. “We are excited to be able to supplement teachers’ educational plans and provide fun, hands-on, material-rich, MA state curriculum-aligned STEM explorations that are worthy substitutes for the in-classroom workshops we would typically provide. Students and teachers do not need to miss out on their favorite STEM explorations due to COVID.”

Field Trips on Tour – Most schools are not booking class field trips this school year. To help students experience some of the learning that takes place during visits to Discovery Museum, the Museum is now piloting Field Trips on Tour. STEM-themed kits of materials paired with teacher curriculum guides and student activity guides enable students to apply science practices as a scientist and engineer would, as they learn through hands-on experiences with everyday materials. Themed kits allow students to explore some of the science content in the Museum’s galleries, including Force & Motion, Light, and Sound. Field Trips on Tour are currently being piloted, with broad availability planned for Winter 2021.

Teacher Resources for Distance Learning – In late spring the Museum launched the Teacher Resources for Distance Learning content series to support teachers and students grappling with the move to remote instruction and learning. These resources provide fun, hands-on, MA state curriculum-aligned explorations—using common household materials—modeled after beloved Museum exhibits such as Sisyphus, Pour & Explore, Pipes of Pan, and Bernoulli Blowers, as well as popular Traveling Science Workshops including Sound, Force & Motion, Weather & Climate, and Simple Machines. The explorations are written for independent learning by an older child, or for younger children with the help of a caregiver or sibling. They are available for free on the Museum’s website.


PASE Resources for Families: In-Museum

Exploration Learning Guides – A cornerstone of the Parent-Assisted STEAM Experiences (PASE) are Exploration Learning Guides, located in each Museum gallery as resources for adults who want prompts for ways to explore each gallery’s STEAM topic with their child. The Guides also will be available for free on the Museum’s website, to be explored before a family visits the Museum or after a visit, for the important follow-up conversations and activities that reinforce learning. Each Guide is topic-specific to best support learning together in each of the Museum’s galleries.

Floor staff will continue to be available to model learning supports and help parents take a lead role in guiding their own and their child’s learning. Using cues from the Exploration Learning Guides, staff will provide in-person guidance for caregivers including ways of sparking conversations, nurturing the caregiver-child bond, participating in activities and discussions with their child, and identifying teachable moments.

“Our new Exploration Learning Guides contain suggestions for observing, questioning, investigating, predicting, and discussing content found in the Massachusetts State Science and Technology/Engineering Framework and the Massachusetts State Mathematics Framework,” said Brindha Muniappan, senior director of the museum experience. “But their primary purpose is to help caregivers co-navigate their child’s explorations and enjoy a wonderful shared experience of exploring a topic and learning together.”

In-depth science explorations – The Museum will also offer Discovery in Depth: in-museum, staff-facilitated deeper dives into specific exhibits or science topics. Museum staff will help families engage in an exploration organized around age-appropriate learning standards. These deeper dives will provide children with more time and materials to investigate the connections among the key concepts they are likely exploring with their teachers. Discovery in Depth experiences might include manipulations of the Harmonograph exhibit in the Yes! It’s Math! Gallery, STEAM challenges in the da Vinci Workshop, or an examination of states of matter in the Water Gallery.


PASE Resources for Families: at Home

Discovery at Home – The Museum’s free Discovery at Home learning activities outline fun and educational STEAM explorations that can be done at home with simple household materials. Organized by topics including math, engineering, the outdoors, kitchen science, and more, the activities are introduced through short videos, outlined in brief and clear instructions, and supplemented with links to related educational resources. These explorations can extend the learning after a Museum visit, and also support those who are not able to visit.

Exploration Kits – Unique activity kits with detailed instructions will be structured around certain Discovery at Home experiences or favorite Museum topics, such as those highlighted in the Light & Color Gallery, the Yes, It’s Math! Gallery, or the da Vinci Workshop. Kits will include select materials and tools for children to use to explore in their home or its environs and offer both open-ended exploration ideas and project-based activities. Exploration Kits, beginning with da Vinci focused-activities, will available for purchase at the Museum or through online ordering beginning winter 2021.


About Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum and its Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and 550sf treehouse blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus abutting 180 acres of conservation land in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. Originally founded in 1982 and expanded to two museums in 1987, the museum reopened in a single, 16,000sf accessible building after a complete renovation and expansion in early 2018. Hands-on, open-ended exhibits developed by professional educators inspire curiosity and exploration, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. Serving families and schools from towns throughout the region, the museum is devoted to informal education that enhances classroom learning. Discovery Museum is committed to accessibility and is a proud recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and a 2018 LEAD® Community Asset Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information please visit Discovery Museum is a community-supported non-profit organization.

Discovery Museum programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

eSchool News Staff

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