In Development (TW)
Currently in development: a redeployment of the Talking Walls program created by Brandon Kwaselow and Anna Musial.
Proposal: Talking Walls, in partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Junior fellows: Andrea Jenkins, Anna Musial, Brian Jennings, Quazie
UM Faculty advisors: Jeff Kupperman, Gary Weisserman
Talking Walls Overview:
Talking Walls will be a website where kids can blog about scientific phenomenon that can be witnessed in everyday life. At Talking Walls, children will be asked questions such as “when did the leaves begin to fall?” or “where can you find black squirrels in your community?” to prompt them to begin thinking about such encounters. In response, students will work with their parents and use various forms of media to create rich, thoughtful stories about their experiences. Thinking and blogging about such experiences will lead children to have a greater awareness for future phenomenon and to be more attentive to their environment. Also, as children read other’s responses, they will begin to see commonalities between themselves and other kids. This will help them understand the significance of their experiences and create personal connections with others, resulting in a sense of community.
Ages 10 – 12 (Primarily upper-elementary)
- Create a sense of camaraderie among kids and show them that many other children share their opinions and have had similar experiences.
- Help children become more observant and in-tune to scientific activity in their everyday environment. Observation is the first step to engaging in scientific problem solving.
- Create opportunities for parents and children to engage in extended oral discourse about meaningful subjects.
- Create opportunities for young children to practice literacy in all it's forms (defined in the educational world as "reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing")
- A key but difficult understanding for young children is that language can express things that are not only about the here and now, but also about things past, distant places, people they've never met, etc. TW gives them opportunities to work toward these understandings in a very tangible way.
- Encourage children to think geographically, in particular about their connection to their communities and the natural world.
- A kid friendly kiosk at AAHOM. The kiosk will be a safe place for children to blog and express themselves.
- A website that’s open to the general public. For safety and privacy reasons, the AAHOM kiosk users will not be able to view entries made by the general public.
- NOTE: Kiosks will be deployed to interested museums throughout the country.
A child and her parent walk up to a brightly decorated kiosk in the museum. On the main screen is a map centered on the museum, with lots of "pushpin" markers in different places. The map can be scrolled, zoomed in or out, etc. Each marker is linked to a "geo-blog" – a story about a particular person in a particular place, with a special focus on human interaction with the natural world. The geo-blogs have been made by other visitors to participating museums, along with school groups and members of the general public. When they find a story that is particularly interesting or relevant to them, they post a short comment, which is attached to the geo-blog pending approval by project staff. The child and parent then talk about a story they could share, prompted by a set of questions with a focus that may be particular to that museum, and may change weekly or monthly. They then click the appropriate place on the map (or search for an address), and enter the story it into the computer in text and/or multimedia form. The story is checked by project staff and within a few days appears on the site, both at the kiosk and on the web, where the child and parent can show it off to others. Later, as they find other geo-blogs that have commonalities with theirs, they add links to those blogs in their own blog.
On the Kiosk:
- Touch screen or drawing tablet so kids could attach their own illustrations.
- Also some sort of input device (scanner/usb/cd-rom/etc.) so that families can bring in their own pictures.
Creation of a Historical Archive:
The best stories can be correlated to create a book of experiences that report an informal history of the community. An online publisher such as Café Press could be used to print books giving interested parents the option to purchase the book online (with zero upfront costs to the museum).
Also when children come back to re-visit the museum, they will be able to see their own work that they contributed to a science related theme via the website archives or the printed books (if the museum chooses to purchase some).
Other ideas that may or may not be worth pursuing:
Follow up activities that could include data collection
Dial-a-blog: To solicit more blog entries, users could call-in a blog entry. There could be posters around the area that say, for example:
ANN ARBOR HANDS ON MUSEUM COMMUNITY EXHIBIT
Have an adult call 555-5555, and tell us what you see here right now.
Your story will become part of the "Talking Walls" exhibit.
At the kiosk, have a printer so users can print out their own poster.