Implementation of “Exploring the natural science and natural history museums” (SOI-TR-310)

Author: Semih ESENDEMİR / Science Teacher

School/Organization: Emine Emir Şahbaz Science and Art Center

This activity is inspired by the learning scenario “Exploring the natural science and natural history museums” prepared by Karolina Damjanoska in 2019. The learning scenario is based on natural science museums and natural history museums. This learning scenario, which aims to familiarize students with natural science museums and history of science museums, is designed for STEM courses. The reason for choosing this learning scenario is the idea of bringing different disciplines together under the roof of museums. Out-of-school learning environments, such as natural science and natural history museums, enable students to recognize natural, historical and cultural environments, establish interdisciplinary relationships and develop personal and social skills. In this activity in which out-of-school learning environments were used within the scope of Chemistry course, local museum visits and virtual exhibitions in Europeana resources about the meerschaum mineral specific to Eskişehir province were included. The chemistry, properties and usage areas of this mineral were investigated through research on meerschaum. During the Meerschaum Museum in Eskişehir, information about the history, extraction and processing of meerschaum was obtained. A workshop was organized for students to experience the processing of meerschaum. After the excursion and workshops, the students examined Europeana resources and created a virtual meerschaum museum using Minecraft Education with all the knowledge and experience they gained. An interdisciplinary study was applied by transforming a subject in the field of chemistry into a digital museum with museum visits, workshops and Europeana resources.

Meerschaum Mineral

The chemistry underlying this activity is based on minerals, which are naturally occurring inorganic compounds. Meerschaum is a mineral formed as a result of hydrothermal effects within the metamorphic layers of magnesium and silicon-based bedrock at different depths of the earth. Approximately 70% of the meerschaum mineral reserves, which can occur in different regions of the world, are located in Eskişehir and Eskişehir is considered to be the homeland of meerschaum. In this context, the event will focus on the chemistry, history and processing of meerschaum, which is unique to our city. In order to fulfill the cultural, scientific and technological context of the event, trips and workshops were organized to natural science and history of science museums and a digital museum was organized with Minecraft Education.

Participant profile

The activity was carried out with 10 gifted students in the 13-14 age group. Before the activity, it was determined that the participants did not have any scientific, cultural and artistic experience with meerschaum mineral.

Implemented topic

The learning scenario used in this activity provides a curriculum link to STEM subjects to enable effective and efficient use of natural science and natural history museums by students. One of these connections, chemistry, emphasizes the chemical composition and properties of precious and semi-precious minerals. In this activity, the chemical properties and history of meerschaum, a precious mineral unique to Eskişehir, were discussed from the perspective of natural science and natural history museums.

The aim of the activity 

The aim of the activity is to enable students to get to know the meerschaum mineral, which has a cultural value belonging to the city they live in, in the light of local and virtual natural science and history museums. For this purpose, while some of the steps in the learning scenario were applied, some of them were followed in different ways. The sections in which students’ opinions about natural science and natural history museums were taken and Europeana resources were introduced were applied exactly. In the learning scenario, students research a topic of their choice from different disciplines and visit museums related to that topic virtually. At the end of all these processes, students were asked to present their research as a poster and oral presentation. Unlike the learning scenario, in this activity, the topic was limited to meerschaum mineral and a workshop was organized for students to get to know meerschaum more closely by visiting the Meerschaum Museum in our city. Like the way Europeana resources were used in the learning scenario, students were asked to research about meerschaum from Europeana resources and present the information they obtained in the form of a digital museum through Minecraft Education instead of a poster presentation. While one hour was needed for the museum visit and two hours for the workshop, for the digital museum, the students spent time in their own planning during their extracurricular time.

As a result of the implementation of this learning scenario, students;

– Research about the formation, chemistry, history, extraction and processing of meerschaum. 

– Have knowledge about meerschaum.

– Distinguish meerschaum from other minerals.

– Understands the importance of these museums by visiting natural science and natural history museums.

– Processes meerschaum mineral and transforms it into artistic products as a result of the workshop.

– Discover and use digital cultural heritage using Europeana resources.

– Prepares a digital museum using Minecraft Education.

As a result of this activity, students discovered that meerschaum, which is one of the important cultural structures of their cities, is a magnesium silicate compound, that it is extracted from meters below the ground as a result of natural events, and that it is a light and easy-to-process mineral due to its porous structure. During the workshop, they saw meerschaum in its raw form, learned how to process it with the help of a meerschaum master and made their own designs. In the activity, students used Europeana resources to create a digital museum that allowed them to develop their technology and design skills. Thanks to this activity, students support their permanent learning as they are in an active, learning by doing, researching and taking responsibility role.

Recommendations for teachers

My colleagues who want to implement this activity can use museums as a learning environment by visiting natural science and history of science museums in their own cities with their students. They can discover how effective this method is and how great an impact it has on students. The applications used in the process can be organized according to the class level and the structure of the school.

I have used Europeana resources before and prepared a learning scenario called “Biodiversity” and implemented it with my students. Thanks to the learning scenario I prepared and the learning scenario I adapted in this activity, I see myself as a more productive teacher who can use different disciplines together and support my students in cultural and artistic fields. I think that using Europeana resources in my activities has created a digital museum culture in my students and this culture has increased their research skills. I think that when using Europeana resources, we should draw the boundaries well for our students and clearly express what the resources should be used for. The contribution of Europeana resources to us teachers in order to protect our rapidly changing cultural heritage and to inspire our students is undeniable.

Video link to the implementation story:

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? 

“Exploring the natural science and natural history museums.” created by Karolina Damjanoska

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? You might also like: 

Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.

Leave a Reply

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial