The Grade 1 students at Yorkview School recently completed a science unit on “Materials, Objects, and Structures” with a half-day trip to the Dundas museum. Their teacher, Carrie Mullins, had spent a morning during her March Break exploring the newly renovated museum and discovered a new space that could possibly work for a school trip for her students. The renovated multipurpose Education Centre has a very pleasant and large heritage room where students could gather to further their learning in history, science, and social studies.
Excited about the possibilities, Mullins contacted the staff at the Dundas museum, including the museum’s assistant, Esther Brouwer, and the recently appointed director of education, Dr. John Picone, to explore the possibilities of combining the science unit with a study of older materials and objects. Dr. Picone’s mind started to, “spin with the possibilities,” and, after a flurry of emails back and forth and many hours of preparation, Dr. Picone, alias “Professor Interrogo,” was ready to welcome the Grade 1 class for a morning of discovery and learning.
What happened next was beyond Mullins ’ expectations. As the Yorkview students rounded the last corner of their walking trip to the museum, Prof. Interrogo was waiting, in character, at the front door. Prof. Interrogo greeted the students, parents volunteers and teacher, and escorted everyone to the heritage room. With the aid of the latest modern presentation technology combined with Prof. Interrogo’s masterful grasp of the Ontario Science Curriculum for Grade 1, the students participated in a couple of hours of review of classroom material and new material, combined with hands-on exploration.
Dr. Picone’s 30-plus years of experience in education ensured a highly entertaining and stimulating experience for all. He varied the instructional strategies, just as a master teacher would do; using a combination of lecture time, discussion time, and questions and answers with movement to the older section of the museum for some hands-on examination of artifacts. Just when we thought the presentation was complete, we discovered that Prof. Interrogo had set up three tables filled with actual artifacts that we could handle with care. The students were instructed to sort and classify the objects. They also learned the purpose of several of the unfamiliar objects that are not found in today’s homes. Throughout the visit, the students wore their “I Wonder” science glasses, given to them courtesy of the museum. The visit concluded with a craft, followed by enjoying their lunches, before starting the walk back to school.
Several weeks later, Tara Fink’s Grade 1 and 2 class from Yorkview embarked on the same walk to the museum to participate in activities based on their social studies unit, Features of Communities. In the meantime, Dr. Picone had developed this presentation as well, which was stimulating and exciting for the children as they learned about the Dundas community, including the mill, as it once was. When the children returned to Yorkview, there was a definite buzz in the air, as they discussed their interesting school trip.
Both Fink and Mullins recommend that other schools in the community consider a trip to the Dundas museum for their students, now that the new multipurpose Education Centre is operational. It is free, educational, presented by an experienced professional who is willing to create presentations tailored to your needs, and in walking distance of most Dundas schools — a winning combination. Professor Interrogo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.