museumlab: Raise the Beam on Learning

About seven years ago I had a conversation with Jane Werner, the Executive Director for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where she mentioned that the Children’s Museum hoped to extend its educational programming to the former Carnegie Library, next door to its current building. I kept that tidbit of information in the back of my mind until I was challenged as a Board Member for the Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) to think about where we could move our middle school students. We had outgrown our home on Liverpool Avenue and needed to find a permanent location. We had engaged an architect to look at building onto the existing site, but I was not pleased with the cost for what we would get. So, I brought up the idea of moving to the Carnegie Library to Larry Berger, the MACS Board member who was in touch with Jane Werner through his work with SLB Radio, housed in the basement of the current Children’s Museum. Larry suggested we ask Jane about the opportunity to move MACS to the Carnegie Library site. We brought up the idea to Vas Scoumis, the CEO for MACS, and that started the conversation for MACS’s involvement with “musemlab”™.

By April 2019 museumlab will become a reality – a learning laboratory where play and education will intersect, where tinkering, building and  making will be part of the educational world. According to the Children’s Museum website: The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is growing with the creation of museumlab™, a place where youth eight and older can work with makers to create everything from furniture to apps, experiment with cutting edge technology in the creation of art, climb 3 stories on a unique sculpture, collaborate on one-of-a-kind art installations and more!

MACS will find its home on the second floor and mezzanine. On the first floor there will be public spaces for organizations and exploration by children. In the basement SLB Radio will have a new digital media studio. The museumlab partners include:

It’s an exciting opportunity for other schools, non-profits, and out-of-school programs to collaborate. The Children’s Museum has two Learning Scientists on staff who will work with the partners to use the museumlab as a place for research. How can a school take the best practices from a museum and incorporate them into a more traditional approach to learning? How can students and teachers become researchers and investigate ways for greater civic engagement and social responsibility? These are some of the possible questions that museumlab may address.


Curious About Place-Based Education? Let the STAR School Be Your Guide

[Place-based Education (PBE) is gaining traction across the country. This Edsurge article highlights the STAR School in Arizona. However, PBE can fit any environment – urban, suburban, or rural. As a classroom teacher in West Virginia I challenged my students to use the local habitat to understand scientific principles. In my work today as an educational technology broker I work with districts, like Avonworth, that challenges its students to redesign its high school based on human centered design processes along with an insight into art gained by working with a consortium of local art institutions, or South Fayette where students are redesigning the outdoor environment to provide for more student learning experiences in sustainability, or the Manchester Academic Charter School where students designed an outdoor garden in the shape of an airplane honoring Charles William Tate, a resident of Manchester, who served as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.]

By Jen Curtis Mar 6, 2017

Tucked into the southwest corner of the Navajo Nation, Arizona’s STAR School is a charter school that knows its place—literally. The school is completely “off the grid,” powered by solar panels and wind generators. There’s a campus greenhouse that provides students with locally grown vegetables and the opportunity to garden. The curriculum, designed to serve the school’s exclusively Native population, emphasizes Navajo language and culture as much as it does the Common Core standards.

STAR is a proponent of place-based education (PBE), a philosophy that aims to immerse students in the local history, culture and ecology of the area they live and learn in, using these as the foundation for academic study. Schools that practice PBE view the community as an extension of the classroom rather than a separate entity. At STAR, PBE is apparent in every aspect of the school, from the food served to the community-based service projects students design and complete every year.

Place-based education may seem especially well-suited to a school like STAR, where the student body is uniquely tied to the land and local culture. But across the country, schools of all kinds have been adopting the model to improve student engagement and, by extension, student success. EdSurge took a look at how STAR is making the model work—and what other schools can learn from their example.

Read more….