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GIVE: Group Inquiry by Visitors at Exhibits

 
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The Program

The skills

After months of testing many different skills, we chose to focus on two particular skills for using hands-on museum exhibits:

  • Asking a question
  • Interpreting results

Both are general skills with wide applicability, but skills that most families don't often use when playing together with exhibits (Randol, 2005). They were simple enough for visitors to learn and remember easily.

How we taught the skills

We created collaborative games to teach the skills to family and school field trip groups. At first, a museum educator led the groups through the games, and after some practice, the groups did them on their own. Each time the game was played, the group used an open-ended exhibit that they had never used before. The exhibits were on different topics in science, so the skills were very general.

Juicy question game

This game was highly structured and collaborative. One person in the group facilitated.

  • First, the group explored the exhibit as usual.
  • The facilitator encouraged each person to think of a “juicy”question – one that nobody knew the answer to, but that could be answered at the exhibit.
  • The group chose one question and explored it using the exhibit.
  • The facilitator encouraged the group to talk about what they had discovered.

Click an image to enlarge.

Front and back of card given to participants of
Juicy Question.
Interior of instructional card given to facilitator
(usually parent or chaperone) of the group
participating in Juicy Question.

Hands off game

This game taught the same two skills but allowed for more spontaneous activity by individuals. There was no need for a facilitator.

  • First, the group explored the exhibit as usual.
  • At any time, anyone could call out “Hands Off!” and everyone had to stop using the exhibit and listen.
  • The person then suggested something they could try at the exhibit, or something they had figured out.
  • The person then called “Hands On” and the group continued to play with the exhibit.

Click an image to enlarge.

Front and back of card given to participants of Hands Off. Interior of instructional card given to facilitator
(usually parent or chaperone) of the group
participating in Hands Off.
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