Collaboration results in San Jose museum's mammoth exhibit
Sketch of a mammoth skeleton for a Children's Discovery Museum exhibit.
With funding from the National Science Foundation, a project team from these three institutions has been meeting on a weekly basis for the past two+ years to develop an exhibition that will now open on Saturday, June 11, 2011. The name Lupé connects the mammoth to the Guadalupe River near where she was found. The exhibition focuses on how Lupé lived in the past, and how scientists have pieced together evidence to understand her life. It is "designed to spark the scientist within each child to make discoveries, find out more, and tell the stories of their explorations." At the same time, the exhibition is also providing the opportunity for Maureen Callanan (CoPI) and her graduate students from UCSC to study how children learn and interact with their parents and caregivers and to examine how young children respond to evidence-based science learning experiences. Their research has been critical in guiding exhibit development from a cognitive psychology perspective.
A mother and daughter admire the skull of Lupé, the San Jose mammoth, in a prototyping room at the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose. Prototyping refers to the museum's early testing of exhibits as a way to gauge visitor response and exhibit effectiveness.
Beyond the exhibit components themselves, there is also great detail to color, narrative style to include and engage and yet be true to the science, and how to explain what needs to be explained in three languages: English, Spanish, and Vietnamese which reflects the demographics of the visiting audience. We are also learning how to incorporate these same details with the focus on evidence in the website that the UCMP is developing that will launch along with the opening, thanks to the skills and creativity of our webmaster, Josh Frankel.
For the past few weeks, the energy level has increased and we can sense the anxiety and excitement of the opening. At the close of each meeting, we are able to sneak into the exhibit space and watch what was only a conceptual dream become a reality step by step. It has been a privilege to work with both the CDM and the team from UCSC and we hope you will visit The Mammoth Discovery!
Mammoth sketch © Beth Zaiken; photo by Jenni Martin, © Children's Discovery Museum