Inspiring the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers and innovators
Museums have the power to inspire the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers and innovators. As centres of informal learning, museums can nurture young engineers, activate citizen scientists and catalyze learners of all ages to take action.
Skills in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — have always been important, and they will become even more important in the future. Young people will need STEAM tools to take on the global challenges of the 21st century, and prepare for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
For more than a decade, GSM Project has worked with museums around the world that want to get young people into STEAM. Our approach is to find the right mix of play and learning that puts young visitors in control of their own exploration of STEAM.
Deeper learning through questions
Making learning fun is at the heart of our design process. We craft experiences that encourage young visitors to solve problems on their own and in groups. We want their interests, intelligences and feelings to guide their experiences. We want youth to guide their own STEAM exploration, gain knowledge, and take it home to learn more.
Learning through inquiry-based play, a form of active learning that starts by posing questions or challenges, is a great way to let young visitors work out answers to questions and challenges. And also use what they already know to deepen understanding and further learning. At GSM Project, we have developed exhibition-design approaches that support fun and inquiry-based learning. We have applied these strategies to many of our projects.
The genius of play
How can science and technology museums create experiences that encourage youth to pursue STEAM? Activate learning through play. Play and education are not distinct categories for young visitors. And learning and doing are linked. Opportunities for meaningful, active STEAM experiences are best when learning is self-initiated and enjoyable.
The Energy Garden at Electropolis Museum in Mulhouse, France invites children ages 8 to 12 to take part in an augmented-reality game called “Waking Up Sleeping Machines”. A playful interactive quest, the game brings the industrial heritage of the electrical museum to life in the minds of visitors. Using an RFID bracelet, visitors can collect clues scattered around the garden to wake up the giant machines and participate in a collective grand finale.
We put play at the heart of the scientific investigation of energy. A playful approach allowed the game to do more than provide a wealth of scientific and historical knowledge related to power generation. It also allowed the game to stimulate imagination and encourage group collaboration.
“STEAM education recognizes the importance of creativity and innovation to solve our problems. Creativity is a core competency in science that is behind many “Eureka!” moments of discovery.”
Head of Interactive Design
Creativity is the secret sauce
When designing the Museum of Ingenuity J.Armand Bombardier in Quebec, we asked ourselves: What is the creative process for inventing a new vehicle? Young visitors can explore this question by imagining their own innovative vehicles.
This digital interactive experience gives visitors hundreds of parts to choose from to design their own dream vehicle. On wheels, rails, water or wings, visitors can add features for comfort and performance. The interactive offers many possibilities to our apprentice engineers to prototype, customize and then test their creation in a virtual landscape.
At the end of the experience, visitors can enter the museum's Fab Lab. This manufacturing workshop includes many physical and digital tools that allow visitors to realize an innovative and creative project, perhaps even the vehicle of their dreams.
Learning is in our hands
When students play a role in their own learning, they become engaged members of society.
At the Bank of Canada Museum in Ottawa, interactive experiences encourage visitors young and old to understand their role in the economy and how they actively contribute to it. By taking action during their visit, young visitors measure the impact of their spending and saving habits, and the ways the Bank of Canada helps maintain the country’s economy.
“One of the goals of this exhibition is to show citizens that they are active participants in the economy.
Through interactive experiences, the museum shows visitors that their choices and behaviours are an important part of the bigger picture of the Canadian economy.”
Head of Interactive Design
We know STEAM
Many managers and designers at GSM Project have received academic training in STEAM. Some of us know biology, construction engineering and statistics. Others know anthropology and industrial design. We get excited about creating exhibits that change how youth experience STEAM. The diversity of our team knowledge and passion feeds our approach to making educational experiences with our clients that boost scientific literacy. We all learn more when we engage with information — and have fun doing it at the same time. This is the power of museums. Their evocative objects and engaging experiences can empower learners and generate excitement for STEAM.
“We believe that it is by imparting a taste for learning that young audiences will have the potential to turn to the priority learning areas of STEM.
We cultivate this pleasure in many ways, and the ones we prefer to use the most are play, creativity and active participation.”