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Science Center at school

Science Center at School is a project of the NCWT Foundation, the umbrella organisation of the NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam, Holland. Commissioned by NEMO, in two exhibits primary school pupils prepare for their own science center at school.

Exhibits are the parts from which exhibitions are built up. The exhibits made by the children are often about physical phenomena and technical principles with occasional references to other subjects.
Leo van den Bogaert reports to us about the exhibits preparation.

Pupils have quite a lot of time to do this: in all they spend eight half days on the project. What follows is a global summary of activities on those half days.

Day 1: start in NEMO
To get inspiration for their own project, the children first pay a visit to NEMO. One of the NEMO staff explains how they can make exhibits in NEMO. Then they go to look at the exhibits in NEMO and judge them using evaluation forms. In this way, they get a good idea of what to bear in mind as they build their own exhibit.

Day 2: choose a subject
They choose two possible designs with the aid of the NEMO Exhibit Design Book. They make sketches of both exhibits and send them to NEMO. NEMO then chooses the best design.

Day 3: investigate
The children have now heard from NEMO which exhibit they are going to work on. In the Exhibit Design Book, they find several research questions they can investigate for their design. The questions are about the operation of the exhibit and the science behind it.

Day 4: completing technical drawings
They are now working on very precise technical drawings. It is important that the dimensions of the parts of their exhibit fit together precisely. They also make a list of materials they need to build the exhibit.

Day 5 and 6: building the exhibit
They build the exhibit as they designed it in the technical drawing.

Day 7: prepare presentation
Alongside the exhibit they have built, they prepare a poster presentation. The posters for instance provide information about the operation of the exhibit and background.

Day 8: a science center at school!
Now they will demonstrate their science center with their class. They present their own exhibits to other school students and parents.

During the project a whole range of skills are practised that investigate design. This project focuses on the technical skills acquired while learning to design.

Technical skills:
-Scheduling work
-Building the construction (the exhibit!)
-Using tools
-Investigating the operation of an exhibit 
-Investigating the technical principles applied

Social-emotional skills:
-Cooperating in pairs

Verbal language skills:
-Explaining the “scientific contents”
Written language skills:
-Seeking and interpreting information
-Presenting with posters

Visual skills:
-Completing technical drawing

Effort required of the school
-one class in 11-12 years old aged (group 7 or 8 in the Netherlands);
-the cost of the visit to NEMO (reduced admission fee;
-transport is free of charge for schools in the Netherlands);
-the teachers taking part are available for a two half days training (two half days on Wednesday afternoon);
-any costs in replacing the relevant teacher.

The school gives permission to NEMO to photograph/film the project in the school in order to promote it.

After the project and the presentation, the three most successful exhibits are kept by the school for promotion at school and/or NEMO.

Support by NEMO
-free teaching material (Exhibit Design Book and pupil workbook);
-guidance at school;
-part of the necessary materials and tools;
-transport from school to NEMO fro schools in the Netherlands.

About Nemo
To learn more, visit the website: http://www.e-nemo.nl
Nemo is part of the Pencil project and runs a pilot project “Science Center at School':

Contact: Amito Haarhuis, haarhuis@e-NEMO.nl

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