Making the most of your visit
Information for teachers and group leaders about maximising learning opportunities:
We encourage focused student learning, investigation and promote links between the learning that is happening in the Museum, the classroom and everyday life.
Read planning your visit to find out about opening times, costs, getting to the museum and other practical visit information.
Before visiting the museum
Identify the purpose of your visit
Integrate the Museum visit with a topic or unit of work. This provides students with an effective learning experience because it provides them with a context and purpose for the visit.
Browse our exhibitions and school programs to identify relevant topics. Some of our exhibitions include a Teacher Resources section with curriculum links and ideas for before, during and after your visit.
Visit the Museum for a Teacher Preview to familiarise yourself with the Museum’s exhibitions and facilities. Contact the Bookings Officer to arrange free entry to any charged exhibitions during your Teacher Preview or to meet with Museum staff.
Read research on Enhancing Young Children’s Museum Experiences (3442 KB) as part of your planning (Prep – year 3).
Share the purpose and discuss objectives of the visit
It is important for students to understand the purpose and specific objectives of the visit, including any intended outcomes after the visit. This helps students to focus during their visit.
- Establish prior knowledge and understand key concepts
- Your visit may come at the start, middle or end of a unit of work. If at the start, then it would be important to establish the students’ prior knowledge. The visit to the Museum and the unit of work would aim to build on that prior knowledge.
- Complete activities in class that develop student understanding of the topic and key concepts.
- Use information and activities on the Museum website.
- Loan objects, specimens and kits from Loans to assist student learning.
- Develop questions that students would like to find answers to, during their visit to the Museum.
We encourage students to be organised into small groups before they visit the Museum. Student groups are a useful teaching strategy and enable:
Clear roles to be established for each group member eg Leader, reader, recorder, timekeeper, collector, reporter and photographer,
Increased opportunities for student discussion, questioning and investigating,
Increased free-choice and input into decisions,
Support and following of student curiosity,
Opportunities for teamwork skill development, and
Greater access to exhibits, objects and interpretation.
Familiarise students with the museum
Familiarising students with the Museum prior to their visit enables students to spend more time focused on learning during their visit.
Explore themes such as:
- What is a Museum? What is the role of a Museum and the people who work there?
- What do you expect to find at a Museum?
- Borrowing kits and objects from Loans can be a great way to explore the types of artefacts and specimens found in a Museum.
- What types of experiences might you have in a Museum?
- How do you find out information at a Museum?
- Explore the different types of interpretation used in Museum - including written, audio, multi-media and the role of staff and volunteers.
- How do you behave in a Museum?
- This is a good opportunity to talk about the value of objects and how to handle materials in a Museum.
- Encourage social learning – students should talk, share ideas, ask lots of questions, get hands-on with touch specimens and interactive exhibits, use multi-media and ask questions of Museum staff.
- The Museum is a public space and members of the public will also be using the exhibits.
- What is the layout of the Museum?
- Knowing the nature and location of facilities and exhibitions ensures that students will have a more focused and relaxed day. A Museum map and our website will help students with this task.
Share the museum visit itinerary
Students will have a more focused visit and feel more relaxed if they know what they are doing for the day.
Discuss with students the full timetable for the day, from the moment they leave school to the time they return. This can include:
- How they will get to the Museum.
- What time they will leave school and when they will arrive back.
- What time they will arrive at the Museum and what will happen on arrival.
- What exhibition(s) and programs they will participate in and how long they will spend in each.
- What activities they will be expected to complete at the Museum.
- When breaks will occur and for how long.
- If they are able to purchase from the Museum shop /cafe.
Build time in your itinerary for:
- Rest pauses
- Reflection and discussion
- Re-visiting students' favourite exhibits.
Identify and inform adult helpers
Adult helpers provide the vital role of facilitating student learning, especially if your class is working in small groups.
Inform adult helpers about the purpose, objectives and concepts that will be covered during the visit. Provide an itinerary and information covered when familiarising students with the Museum.
Provide adult helpers with strategies for facilitating learning, such as questioning techniques, utilising student roles within the group, encouraging curiosity and supporting student investigation.
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When you arrive
A Visitor Services Officer (VSO) will welcome you when you arrive. The VSO will:
- Register your group and record your details, such as number of students and adults.
- Confirm the details of your visit and discuss your itinerary.
- Handle any invoicing or payments or direct you to the appropriate staff member.
- Show the students where to store their bags.
- Direct you to the area of the Museum where you are starting your visit.
- Learning Activities officer or VSO will welcome the students and brief them about their visit and how to move around the Museum.
Allow time at the start of your visit for student orientation (unless you are starting with a Museum staff led program), such as:
- behaviour expectations
- location of amenities
- location of galleries
- meeting points
- time limits
This allows student groups to freely explore the whole Museum or to explore the whole exhibition. This orientation helps students to be familiar with their surroundings, satisfy initial curiosity and excitement and may alleviate feelings of ‘missing out’.
Following this orientation, students will be less distracted and able to focus on learning activities.
Rest pauses and reflection
Allow time for rest pauses during your visit. Allow students to have a break from focused learning (both physically and mentally), eat and relax, socialise with their peers and take a toilet stop. Rest pauses are good opportunities to reflect on what the students have seen, experienced and learnt.
Spaces for rest and reflection within the Museum:
Eating: Please be aware that you cannot eat or drink in the exhibition galleries.
- Waterside courtyard overlooking Ross Creek near the museum entrance
- Purchases from the Cafe can be eaten at the tables provided.
Chairs and couches in non-eating areas:
• Outside Deck overlooking Ross Creek– near the café.
• Great Gallery
• Enchanted Rainforest
Learning at the Museum
Museum exhibitions and activities are developed to support diverse learners of all ages. Exhibitions increasingly cater for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners and use visual displays, real objects, hands-on activities, multi-media and reference materials.
Learning is supported when adults:
Encourage students to work in small groups and adopt specific group roles.
- Ask questions that encourage investigation.
Demonstrate curiosity and encourage wonder.
- Encourage students to talk, ask questions, share ideas.
Direct students to ask questions of Museum staff.
- Model the use multi-media and available technologies.
Engage with interactives and touch specimens.
Respond to students' queries.
Guide students to interesting or relevant exhibits.
Make suggestions about how students can complete their activities.
- Suggest that students record difficult questions, differing views, favourite exhibits and objects for further research or discussion back at school.
Express positive feelings and encourage students to share theirs.
Re-visiting favourite exhibits and objects
Allow time towards the end of your visit, for students to re-visit their favourite exhibits or objects. This supports student interest and learning, allows students to have some choice and control over their learning, enables students to share their views with peers and may support students being in the role of 'expert'.
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You may wish to build on student favourites as a follow up activity back in the classroom.
After visiting the museum
Reflection and debrief about the visit
Provide an opportunity for students and adult helpers to reflect on and debrief about the visit: what they liked, what was visited, the itinerary, the pre-visit activities and information and more.
Comparing new and old knowledge
- About the Museum - Discuss students’ understanding and expectations about the Museum before the visit and how that compares to their understanding after the visit.
- About an exhibit, object, person, feeling or belief - Discuss something new that students may have found out during their visit and discuss how that differs to what they knew or believed before the visit.
Follow up and further investigation
- Use post visit activities suggested for some of our exhibitions and in our resources section.
- Ask each group to report on one activity they completed (if activities had been set for the visit).
- Encourage the groups to comment on their findings and discuss any questions, differing views, favourite exhibits, objects or stories.
- Report their answers to questions formulated during discussions and activities before they visited.
• Conduct further investigation or debate any issues that arise in discussions after their visit.
- Loan objects or specimens from Education Loans to assist student investigation or to create a classroom museum exhibition.
- Research questions by seeking information on the museum website.
- Use their findings to write information reports, newspaper articles, create a webpage or digital story or make a presentation.
- Collate the information gathered at the Museum into a class booklet.
- Make posters, models or create a museum exhibit or exhibition and invite other classes to visit your museum.
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