Making the most of your excursion
Information for teachers about maximising learning opportunities before, during and after a visit to the Museum.
Primary students having fun at the Australian Museum
Photographer: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum
Before your visit
Set the context and establish baseline knowledge
Pre-visit activities are designed to set the context, share topic knowledge that students already have, and pre-teach any relevant concepts that students will need when they visit the Museum.
Discuss and record the objectives of the excursion
Objectives, relating to knowledge, skills and/or attitudes make the purpose of the excursion clear and assist the students to be more focused during their visit. .
We recommend 6 students or less per group. A student can then be given responsibility for one of these roles:
- leader - to organise and encourage the other group members
- reader - to read activity instructions and display information to the group
- scribe - to write down the group's responses to each activity
- spokesperson - to report the group's findings to the rest of the class
- navigator - to guide the group around the displays and the Museum
- photographer - to record interesting aspects of their excursion.
Familiarise students with museum settings
For younger students, or those who have never been to a museum, it is important to consider the following issues in preparation for their visit.
What is a museum?
- A permanent institution open to the public.
- A place that collects and conserves many kinds of things.
- A place with objects and specimens that provide material evidence of people and their environments to help scientists research and understand the world we live in.
- A place with collections that visitors can study, learn about and enjoy.
What do you expect to find at a museum?
- The building may be historical and/or large and impressive.
- Exhibitions - these often contain displays of real objects and specimens but they may also include models, information and labels, computer interactives and hands-on exhibits.
- Visitor facilities - including a shop, cafe, toilets and information/admissions desk.
- People - including museum staff, and visitors such as students, families and tourists.
How old is the Australian Museum, why was it established and has it changed?
Learn about the history of the Australian Museum.
Familiarise students with the Museum layout
To ensure that everyone on the excursion is familiar with the Museum's layout, provide students and accompanying adults with a copy of the Museum guide map. You could also ask the students to:
- locate the exhibitions they will be visiting at the Museum
- locate some or all of the facilities listed on their maps (for example, the toilets)
- trace the shortest pathways between particular exhibitions or facilities
- practise giving one another instructions on how to get from one exhibition to another.
Timetable the Museum visit
We recommend you discuss with the students exactly what they will be doing, including:
- how they will get to the Museum
- what time they will leave school
- what time they will arrive at the Museum
- what exhibition(s) they will see
- how long they will spend in each exhibition
- what activities they will be expected to complete at the Museum
- when breaks for recess and lunch will occur
- the names of all teachers and other accompanying adults who will be present on the excursion
- what time they will leave the Museum
- what time they will arrive back at school.
Students are encouraged to takes photos to record their excursion. There are some temporary exhibitions that do not allow photography and you will be informed about these on arrival.
At the Museum
When you arrive
Aim to arrive approximately 10 minutes before any educator-led sessions so that you and the students have time to organise students and use the toilets if necessary.
A Museum staff member will be on hand to welcome you. They will:
- brief the students about how to move around the Museum. It is important that accompanying adults are present for this briefing.
- direct you to the areas of the Museum you intend to visit.
Museum staff will securely store students' bags.
Moving around the Museum
Teachers and accompanying adults are asked to stay with their groups at all times. One adult supervisor is admitted free for every:
- student with special needs
- 4 pre-school children
- 4 primary school students
- 10 secondary students
- 15 tertiary or English language students.
Where to have lunch
We do not have any space for school students or large groups to have recess or lunch inside the Museum and must ask that you use Hyde Park (just across the road) for this purpose. In wet weather our staff will make provision for you to remain indoors.
Post visit activities
Comparing new and old knowledge
When you return to the classroom, you could:
- ask each group to report on one activity they completed
- encourage the groups to comment on their findings and discuss any questions
- discuss how the information that students found during their visit differs from their expectations before the visit and focus on how their understandings have changed.
Reflecting on and using new knowledge
Some options for consolidating student learning are to have students:
- report their answers to questions formulated during discussions and activities before they visited
- conduct further research or debate any issues that arise in discussions after their visit
- use their findings to write information reports or make a presentation
- collate the information gathered at the Museum into a class booklet
- make posters, models or displays.
Ms Helen Wheeler , Learning Services Operations Manager