Science capital research has highlighted the need to create links between young people’s science experiences at school, home, and out of school (for example, in museums). Such links deepen learning, and promote the relevance of science to young people’s everyday lives.
Whilst recognising the value of such approaches, many teachers do not make the best use of museum visits seeing them as a ‘one-off’ and not linking the experience to content taught in school. As well as lacking the time and resources to prepare for visits, many educators feel unconfident in terms of supporting their student’s exploration of objects in the museum. Many students also struggle to engage with objects – seeing them as not relevant to them or unable to identify what they are – and in many cases don’t look at them at all! With this in mind, we at the Science Museum wanted to find a way to:
- Upskill and empower teachers
- Build excitement and anticipation for the museum visit
- Help students make personal connections to objects
- Make links between school and museum experiences
The ‘See, Link, Wonder’ method was developed in response to these challenges drawing on science capital research, the Science Museum’s audience research, and the ‘Visible Thinking’ routines of Project Zero at Harvard University. Our ambition was to combine academic theory with our practical experience to make something transferable and scalable across all our school and educational visitors.
The model – covered on our teacher CPD courses – is a set of questions that can be used by educational group leaders before their visit when preparing for their trip to the Museum, during their visit , or as a follow up back in class to further explore what was seen whilst on their visit.
The questions allow students to use their observation skills, make connections with their personal knowledge and experiences and drive their own learning by following their curiosity:
- See – describe what you see/feel/hear
- Link – make personal connections to the stimulus (This can be objects in the museum, or images in the classroom)
- Wonder – ask new questions and plan further enquiry
This resource was recently tested in the Science Museum with teachers; the findings showed that it:
- Provided a structure that teachers usually lacked on gallery.
- Increased the potential for learning in the museum
- Was accessible for students of all abilities
- Helped them to link to what was being taught in school
The testing also raised some questions to consider:
- Format of the activity – how can we make the resource as flexible as possible for teachers and other adult helpers? Some teachers saw the questions as a list to work through in order, rather than to generate their own ideas, and this became a challenge for some.
- How do we make our educational visitors aware of the model before their visit?
- What extra support do teachers need to be able to prepare for a visit to an object gallery? If not visiting the Museum, how can we make them aware of the breadth of objects in our galleries?
- How do we support teachers in linking to students many different interests and cultural references of students?
At the Science Museum we are continuing to work with visitors to better understand how we can support them to feel welcome and confident to make the most of our offer. Keep an eye out on the Educators’ page and our Twitter feed where we will be sharing future developments related to this, and our other science capital informed resources.
Try writing some See, Link, Wonder questions yourself using this image of a Science Museum object below.
This object is from the Who Am I? gallery where you can find more about genetics and explore the science of who you are.
What questions did you come up with?
Chris Whitby, Senior Audience Advocate