A Day at the Museum: Creating engaging PK-12 learning environments through emulating children’s museum design


Mike Corb

Anne Fullenkamp
MBA from Point Park University
March from Morgan State University
BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

LU:  1

Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

This presentation addresses the welfare aspect of the HSW Design credits as it will demonstrate how to create positive emotional responses among, or enable equal access by, students utilizing PK-12 learning environments.


Few memories stand out that help define the elementary school experience like that of the class field trip day at the children’s museum. Why? Children’s museums provide an environment rich in immersive activities (rather than objects) that trigger active learning. Students get to choose what to engage with while forgetting they are in an educational environment. Though students may think otherwise, there’s a commonality between children’s museums and schools Ð the design goal of both environments is to engage and inspire and educate. Museum/school partnerships are becoming more relevant in today’s evolving PK-12 environment as they are a way of connecting formal education to the best of informal learning practices. Moreover, museums are constantly researching and testing best practices in project-based learning, which schools could use to inform future policy. This presentation and learning activity will demonstrate why design teams should look to children’s museums when trying to reimagine the PK-12 learning environment. Speakers will offer insights based on previous projects, work and industry expertise. Audience members will walk away with tips to creating a design process that engages key stakeholders, places student experiences first, and creates flexible and adaptive 21st century learning environments.

Learning Objectives:
  • Audience members will be able to employ new methods of design influenced by children’s museums within learning environments.
  • Audience members will be able to construct a design process that successfully addresses key stakeholders needs while placing the student experience first.
  • Audience members will be able to support and educate clients on properly utilizing their new learning environments.
  • Audience members will be able to demonstrate how these new national educational environments will have a growing global impact.
Primary Competency:

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Primary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.

Secondary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Additional information: Presenters will utilize real-world scenarios and examples to show the similarities between the design goals of children’s museums and PK-12 learning environments. They will take these similarities and help audience members form new design methods that stimulate, encourage and engage students.