Where can you dig for prehistoric dinosaur bones, take a whirlwind trip through the solar system, or measure yourself against a brave medieval knight? At your local museum, of course!
Museums – whether science, space, natural history, decorative arts, or history – are an integral part of the learning process for students of all ages. Particularly for a child with a predominately visual learning style, a museum can take a subject from the dusty pages of a book and make it simply come alive!
Forget the tired taxidermy or highbrow artwork you may remember from your own school trips. Museums have become increasingly interactive in recent years with the addition of exhibits that let students test theories and hypotheses in real time, while learning more about the world around them. Stroll through a butterfly pavilion, put a robot through its paces, or create your very own music video – the learning possibilities are endless.
According to the Association of Children’s Museums the benefits are endless, too. “Research from the University of Illinois finds that children feel bored as much as 50 percent of the time while at school or doing their homework. At children’s museums, kids become excited about what they are learning while they are playing.”
Best of all, you won’t need to head to a big city to enjoy this new breed of museum. While larger metropolitan areas do boast some of the best – California Science Center in Los Angeles, The Field Museum in Chicago, and of course, the Smithsonians in Washington, D.C. – smaller museums in your local area also have lots to offer. Plus, specialty traveling exhibits make the same experience available throughout the country, whether your family lives in St. Louis or Savannah.
Museums have also begun banding together to provide families that travel with an added bonus. When you become a member of your local children’s museum, you receive free admission to that museum, plus admission through the ACM Reciprocal Program to nearly 200 participating museums across the nation. The Association of Science-Technology Centers also has a reciprocal agreement with 400 ASTC museums and facilities worldwide.
Wikipedia offers a list of diverse museums, helpfully categorized by state. You’ll be amazed at how many are right around the corner, so get started!
This article originally appeared in News of the Brandywine Magazine.
Beverly Stewart, M.Ed. is President and Director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc., an area leader in 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep for children and adults, and translating/interpreting since 1985. In addition, Back to Basics is a Delaware Department of Education approved 1-on-1 Private School for K-12, as well as a Business and Trade School for ages 16+. For more information, call 302-594-0754.