The NSM has a variety of educational programs for school groups that are in line with the curriculum for fourth graders. This grade is where students learn about Nevada history and will likely tour the museum and the state capitol. I chose this particular program because I felt that this was the most ingenious and adaptable to the Bell County Museum back in Texas. I did have the opportunity to participate in two other curriculum-based programs and was very impressed at how smoothly they functioned. The students enjoyed these programs that end with the creation of a craft project based on the information provided across the program.
These programs are composed of three different modules intended to provide information including reinforcement through hands on learning. The first module for each program is a power point presentation with a ‘check on knowledge’ at the end. The second module is movement through a portion of the museum where the students have the ability to ‘have hands on’ interaction with objects from the power point presentation. This includes a scavenger hunt for the students who have questions that require answers only derived from this tactile experience. Each of the objects has a written component forcing the students to read in order to discover the answer to one of the scavenger questions. The third module is a project that requires the students to apply the appropriate scavenger answers for craft completion. Even if the students do not complete the craft project, it may be taken back to the classroom and completed there or at home.
The program I am highlighting here is Desert Adaptations where students learn about the high desert environment here in Carson City and Reno areas. This program focuses on the native plants and animals that have learned to adapt to high desert living. They complete a worksheet that has them explain, in writing, three different animal’s adaptations, and what the individual student likes about these animals.
This portion of the program is in a lab environment where they get to see the animals and their environments up close. It has a static display with a light heating a thermometer for comparison to a room temperature thermometer. It simulates about a 40-degree swing in temperature. Students then have an open discussion of several of their choices. When this is complete, they take their worksheets back to the auditorium and build a pop-up book.
They assemble the pages by gluing their backs together then they color eight different animals from the lab display and glue them to the appropriate page of the book.
To complete the craft each student will write a sentence or two (grammatically complete) about the animal on each page. They are not restricted to information about their animals but can write a story across the entire book allowing for a greater range of creativity. The students may be broken up into several groups that cycle through the program alternating with a portion of the museum’s other exhibits. The three module programs are designed to take about an hour.