Interactive Exhibit Theory: Hints for Implementing Learner-Centered Activities in Elementary Classrooms

April 1st, 2001 | RESEARCH

Classroom tasks should develop a spirit of inquiry and a sense of delight in discovery that will become part of the individual's learning style. Yet in the traditional elementary classroom, the use of worksheets, lectures and basal reading tasks to the exclusion of hands-on, participatory opportunities fails to encourage a child's construction of knowledge. By setting up a problem to be solved, demanding interaction, producing effects from direct actions and allowing variations of approach, cognitive development in children is enhanced. Hands-On Children's Museums encourage contextually relevant reasoning. These museums are successful, concrete examples of interactive, participatory learning. As reflected in their interactive exhibits, the combination of a realistic setting and the use of objects that belong in that setting is being recognized as an important educational development. Their continued and increasing popularity is unprecedented and the framework used so successfully in the museum context can be translated into the elementary classroom. A study of 259 Children's Museums in the United States was undertaken by the author to examine what kinds of similarities existed in this type of museum. Research questions addressed demographics, exhibit type, interactivity, and success and educational programs. This paper analyzes portions of that data in order to propose an outline for creating an equally successful interactive environment in elementary classrooms.


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Team Members

Kathryn Speaker, Author, The College of New Jersey


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 0013-1172

Publication: Education
Volume: 121
Number: 3
Page(s): 610

Related URLs

EBSCO Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Nature of science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs