Preparing an Educational Activity Takes Imagination in Action!

The education team resides in an out-of-the-way spot in the museum. The staff is very good at creating a fabulous and playful world that connects with the various exhibitions on display.

As a museology and heritage studies student, I opted to do my internship on education out of curiosity and because it was fun. I like to help people connect with nature and help them discover the many surprises and secrets that nature in all her beauty has in store for them. I joined the education team in May and I was instantly enthralled!

A woman and three children work at a table.

Young visitors preparing their insect traps under the supervision of a museum educator. Image: Catherine Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

My first goal during my internship was to take in and understand the process of setting up an educational activity from the design stages to final evaluation.

This process requires a lot of patience and creativity. As soon as I arrived, I was assigned to work on an activity that I would be devising from A to Z. As my project had to be ready for the beginning of the summer season, I immediately realized how demanding this work can be in terms of knowledge and resources. It was very inspiring to have my very own project, and it quickly became a very personal affair for me.

The activity I created with Nathalie Benoit, a museum educator, was called Trapped! We wanted to show visitors the diversity of insects living in urban settings and teach them how to build various insect traps in the museum’s lab and at home.

Collage of two images: Cups containing paint and paintbrushes on a table, and a boy painting a plastic glass.

Left: materials needed to create the insect trap. Right: Bryce Wood, future entomologist and insect hunter, prepares his trap. Images: Catherine Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

The first step was a rather theoretical and administrative task: write up a descriptive and strategic plan of everything required to do the activity. I then needed to find a place to run the activity. We absolutely wanted to take advantage of the building’s exterior. This “green” space reserved for educational purposes was indeed seldom used.

A ladybug on a leaf.

A ladybug (Coccinellidae) captured during the insect trap trials. Image: Catherine Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

The fun part was still to come: creating trap prototypes, studying the insect species captured, consulting with an entomologist to find out more about the captured insects, etc. We then needed to mount a presentation to accompany the activity in the lab, illustrate and draw numerous traps to include on the take-home sheets, buy the materials needed for the activity, and so on, and so on!

A man extends a butterfly net towards a hedge while a boy looks on.

Visitors attempting to capture insects outside the museum for studying purposes. Image: Catherine Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

The last month was devoted to reviewing and evaluating the activity. Minor modifications were made, based on observation sessions with educators. Some changes were made to the screen presentation that accompanies the activity, for example.

By this time, of course, education services staff was already preparing the activities for the next season, centering on the exhibition Frogs – A Chorus of Colours, which will open in September.

A dozen or so wood lice and some bits of wood in a cup.

A yellow pit trap with wood lice (arthropods) trapped inside! Yellow usually attracts pollinating insects. Image: Catherine Bouchard © Canadian Museum of Nature

I very much enjoyed my work at the museum—it was very inspiring! It’s wonderful to see how the staff strives to educate and satisfy visitors’ curiosity. It was fascinating to see how the museum operates as a unit, bringing together such a variety of career profiles. In short, in the education unit, everyone works together for the enjoyment of all visitors.

Translated from French.

This entry was posted in Education, Live animals at the museum, Our visitors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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