Finally, it came. Opening Day. All of us here at the North Country Children’s Museum have been continuously planning programs and activities for many weeks now, hoping that we would soon be able to turn our ideas into a reality. However, unforeseen obstacles stood in our path. Our opening day had been postponed almost three weeks by building codes which, unfortunately for us, we had no control over. But finally, after getting the building up to code, we were able to open our doors.
Although the past few weeks had been frustrating due to the helpless wait, the frustration and planning was all worth it on opening day when we had families start to flow into the museum from the very minute we opened at 10 in the morning. The families who came that first day had all been eagerly awaiting our opening date. In fact, some were so eager I saw three families come again the very next day!
While I had already begun to test my programs on school groups, I quickly realized that the family setting is another ball game. School groups can either be enthralled with your program and stay with you to learn, or they have no interest at all. Families, however, often encourage their kids to stay at the program table and often engage in the program alongside their children. I realized that I needed to be even better prepared in order to keep both kids and adults engaged.
In keeping both children and parents engaged, I have finally fully grasped the power of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) as a teaching tool. In school groups there is so much diversity of interest in a large group of kids with many different learning styles and interests that it is hard to pinpoint what exactly is getting through because of the rapidly moving and usually chaotic groups. However, with parents often facilitating their kids, I can see very clearly how STEAM works to engage many different interests and learning styles.
The other lesson that I have learned in the course of this internship is the value of lamination. Now that all my time is spent on the museum floor, I have no time to spend perfecting programs or modifying them. But, with the help of our lamination machine, I can print something and make it look very professional, not to mention durable, in a matter of minutes. I never would have thought something as simple as lamination could make such an impact on the look and feel of a program, but, it has been proven to be a valuable tool which I am sure I will use in the very near future.
The long and frustrating wait to open has ended, and I am happy to say that despite the delays, families have been coming to enjoy the museum ever since we opened. I have yet to see the museum completely empty, as there is always a steady stream of families throughout the day. It has been a pleasure to interact with the families anticipating their visit to the museum and although my time is now spent on the floor, I am hoping to develop even more programs that I can leave for future interns and volunteers to use.