Students and teachers expectations and experiences on learning science in a science museum
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Experimenting, observing and communicating ideas with others are keys for science learning formally and informally. Museums allow "hands-on" interactivity and exploration for the public to investigate or understand a topic that they may be interested in. Museums also let students and teachers build new understandings based on prior knowledge. This study examines a common school experience, the trip to a science museum. The purpose of this study was to examine students and teachers expectations and experiences on learning science in a science museum. The participants were fourth-grade students and teachers in western New York. Data collection included pre- and post-visit interviews, observations, and artifacts. The pre-visit interview was used to get a sense of what the students expected to see and experience at the science museum. The post-visit interview was to see if those expectations were met after experiencing the science museum. These questions attempted to ascertain students expectations of how, where, and when they enjoy learning science. An interest was to see what students expected to see on the science museum field trip compared to what they experienced. The students linked the field trip to their classroom learning before and after the trip. The differences and similarities between the teachers and students impacted what they thought about learning science on their field trip. Five major findings emerged from this study: (1) What the teachers expected the students to see did not always compare to what the students expected to see at the science museum; (2) A significant amount of the students found at the science museum what they expected to find; (3) The science museum aided students with their school work by helping them with tests, reports and labs; (4) There was a direct comparison between the teachers and students in what was done for preparation and review before and after the science museum field trip; and, (5). The students, despite expectations and experiences, all seemed to have seen or learned something new.