Over the past two days, the Explainers and ExNet hosted floor staff managers from around the country in a workshop designed to share with each other the joys and challenges of developing staff that interacts with the public in science museums. We had about 30 participants from Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, California, and even the mythical state of Arkazonalaskasaw.
The participants jumped right in with Marcus’s hoop nightmare’s inspired relay race. We used new and improved goggles that were very similar to the exhibit. It was amazing to see people who didn’t know each other feeling comfortable enough to act silly and try something new. The barracudas, anteaters, potato peelers, and terminators squared off in epic competition.
We had a lot of fun on Monday exploring exhibits for a lengthy period of time with Explainer box materials and other items found in the cloffice.
Later on we broke out into groups and discussed “juicy topics” that we wanted to share ideas about.
On Tuesday the workshoppers joined the rest of the explainers and Thomas H. in a training where we tried to estimate the speed of sound by determining the length of the echo tube. We found out that some of our grandmothers lied to us. And one person in the class even fell for the old “let me borrow a twenty” trick.
The attendees shadowed Explainers on the floor and explored some of our exhibits. We broke up into small groups again and talked about more strategies and plans for the future.
Some of the participants in the conference may even start up blogs with their floor staff after seeing our unique web site. We will link those up when they get started for sure!
The most amazing part of the conference for me was being able to be a part of a community of educators who all faced different constraints and dream different dreams but had similar goals and could share/steal techniques. Although I was supposed to be one of the facilitators, I ended up learning way more than I taught, something that science museum folks may be familiar with. And in the end we could all agree on the most important elements to a successful Explainer program…
SMELLY MARKERS and BIG PAPER
(and wind-up toys)