Next month, the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention will be finishing up a pilot program to research student learning that it started in October.
This program, called The Maker’s Molecule, is part of a partnership between the museum and Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. The program has already held two sessions, and the third and final one is scheduled for Dec. 6, according to Patty Lipka, the program’s director.
All three sessions teach the kids science topics. During the first two sessions, students learned about polymerization and chemical changes by making chalk. December’s session will teach students how to make gum, where they’ll be able to choose their own flavor, and package it.
“We’re not just entertaining them but teaching them as we go along,” said Ben Dillard, supervisor for after-school programs at the city of Gainesville’s Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department.
Lipka created the program to have physical data to show if the interactive way children learn at the museum is effective.
Students ages 6 to 11 from the Porter’s Community Center have been participating in the program at no cost.
Lipka said picking the students from the center was a logical choice because they were students already familiar with the museum.
“This is our kids,” she said. “This is our community.”
Before and after each session, students are asked the same questions to see if their answers change, she said. Some questions include whether they enjoy science, what they want to be when they grow up and if they wanted to be there at the session. These questions help determine what they learned during the session and if they enjoyed it.
“It’s helping us see how confident students become prior to coming to a Cade session and after a Cade session,” Lipka said.
After six months, Dillard said the department plans to see how much the kids remember from the program and if the program is actually helping kids learn.
Chauncy Walker, recreation director at the Porter’s Community Center, said he has seen the kids completely immersed in the classes. The students love the sessions and find them fun and interesting, he said.
“Nowadays, kids learn best in different, innovative way rather than the normal reading from books,” Walker said.