Suzanne Allyson shows aquatic invertebrates to some youths.
Suzanne Allyson shows aquatic invertebrates to some youths during a school workshop. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

School programmes are fun! As one of the museum’s educators, I get to meet wonderful classes and wonderful teachers. I love the dynamic in the room—the learning from each other.

I love the energy and excitement school programmes generate. It is extremely serious, but then it is not. It is about having serious fun about science. I feel happy in a room full of kids. I learn so much from them. I enjoy the exchanges we have. It is about science, but it is also about interactions among students as well, how they treat one another.

Every time I animate a school programme, it feels new and unique. I like gathering my thoughts before a workshop, especially when it is about something I am not very familiar with. It is not so much knowledge that I want to pass to students, but rather the curiosity to learn more, to go further. I want them to leave a workshop with questions in their minds. It is much more interesting to seek answers than to learn facts.

Students observing aquatic organisms.
Students observing aquatic organisms. Image: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature

Hands-on activities are the very best. When everyone is busy doing something, I feel, “This is it! This is a workshop.” There is nothing I like more than looking at them all, engaged in something. My goal is to get everyone engaged. School programmes are energizing. They are motivating. There are questions being asked that I often do not know the answer. I am grateful for the chance to improve next time.

I learn a lot from the teachers also, and how they interact with their students. I am always in awe to witness how much teachers care about their students, and how they treat them with respect. I think we cannot separate the learning process from the conditions surrounding the learning, the social interactions between people, and the good feelings that learning can bring.

I love it when students discover something they did not know. For instance, when Philip discovered a new water bug. Or when a student leaves a note on the table saying, “Bye! It was fun!”. Or when students do not want to leave, but line up to look through the digital microscope instead. My biggest reward is when a kid says he really enjoyed the workshop. I never get used to it. Sometimes, a teacher says “See you next year!”, and I love to hear that.