Nov. 22, 2022-- Throughout last week, students from the Arts and STEAM Academies teamed up for a design challenge at the InfoAge Science and History Museums in Wall, NJ.
Using form and function in multidisciplinary teams, their challenge was to brainstorm a new exhibit or improve an existing exhibit that will help InfoAge meet its mission to educate the public. How do you make a display educational and not just informational? was the anchoring question. And this wasn’t wasn’t just for fun– the best student ideas are being shared with the museum’s leaders and Board of Trustees, and could legitimately inspire a new exhibit.
Teams visited the site's major attractions, with guided tours and activities for each.
The Military Technology space featured historic military vehicles designed to traverse land and sea.
The Radio Technology museum brought students through a hands-on exhibit, allowing them to dial each other on rotary phones, communicate with Morse code, and sit and play a jukebox in a classic NJ diner diorama.
The Computers exhibit allowed students to travel through time from the very first giant computers to present-day handheld devices.
The Railroads interactive space showcased all four gauges of model trains, some with intricately complex setups. A firehouse-themed train, for example, featured a fireman sliding down the pole, doors opening, and fire trucks coming to the rescue.
The consensus favorite spot, however, was the makerspace. Here, students learned how to solder wires, batteries, and a light to make a working bulb. Better yet, they interviewed one another in the Computer Deconstruction Lab (CDL) podcasting studio.
Interviews conducted in the studio will be used by the museum board to develop future exhibits and to make them even more interactive. Through this experience, students recognized that museums are “a place where we can learn from the past,” and were able to reflect on what this revealed about how they learn, and what their interests are.
“I know memorization doesn’t always help in the real world, but it gives background information,” said one student.
“I’m more hands-on,” acknowledged another. “I like … real-world examples and experience.”
One student recalled a story he learned at the museum, which combined history and empathy. It was about “an American pilot who dropped food to starving German kids," and it resonated deeply.
“I’m passionate about cars, early 90s through now,” said one student after time spent examining the engineering behind some truly classic American roadsters. “More drag cars, GTRs and R35s.”
The day culminated with pizza and a cheering crowd of onlookers for an epic game of ping pong.
This career-oriented, real-world and off-site experience comes with open houses for the district’s Career Academies right around the corner, December 1, 5, 6, and 7. Field trips like these are but one of the many benefits students experience as a part of the academies and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) offered within the district. Learn more about the Career Academy open houses here.