At a time when schools are becoming increasingly prescribed and test driven, children need places in which their imaginative intelligence can sail. I will use this forum to report on the successes and challenges we encounter at the Maritime Explorium. the ME, a unique family learning center in Port Jefferson, New York.
Learning is a naturally joyous activity, and at ME, visitors feel that joy through exhibits and programs based on today’s most compelling research on best practices in education, Since 2003, we’ve collaborated with internationally known educators, curious toddlers to teens, and eager scientists who turn dreams into realities and learning into smiles.
What happens when children DON’T get a chance to experience real learning, particularly in science and math? Sadly, we know the answer. Most children, especially girls, are turned off to science and math by middle school, never take more than a few required courses, and rarely look with wide awake eyes to the beauty and intrigue around us all.
This is a challenge the Maritime Explorium meets. The National Research Council reports evidence that settings such as ours stimulate the inquisitive mind, foster academic learning and expand children’s perceptions of career options. These are reasons why ME is so important right now — it’s all about imaginative thinking.
We are all natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, writers, dancers, musicians, and artists – until someone tells us we’re not. Children are constantly wondering, experimenting, building and creating – until someone tells them to stop. At ME, we say, “You can, and let’s start now.” We help children build on what they already know; we stretch them to think; and we bring back real learning into their lives.
The children playing at ME are tomorrow’s adults who need to solve the complex problems on our planet. ME gives them a place now to develop their critical and creative thinking skill. ME does this through its constructivist pedagogy. Stay tuned.