Pencil factories and science museums: How tech is shaping school trips

John Marsh

John Marsh is the Director of AVonics, a technology company who provide audio, video and lighting solutions for the education sector. First established in 1998, the AVonics team are highly skilled and experienced with the design, supply and installation of immersive teaching spaces and interactive technology in schools across the country, and can help transform an ordinary classroom into an exciting and engaging learning environment.

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Do you remember the excitement of going on a school trip? You’d rush home to give your parents a paper permission slip, gleefully hand it to your teacher the following day and then spend the rest of the week looking forward to venturing out of the school gates with your classmates.

School trips were the highlight of my school year. It was rare that I’d find the destination boring (who doesn’t love to learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites, right?), but if I did it was a fair tradeoff for interrupting the monotony of a typical school day. Things are slightly different in the digital era of course; technology is now such a big part of children’s lives that they wouldn’t think about learning without it. This means that they need technology to stimulate their mind, and teaching nowadays harnesses technology to appeal to their creative sides in order to learn. Immersive learning isn’t limited to the classroom, it should also be the focal point of school trips.

Over half of children prefer science and technology trips

In my own experience, pupils love the suggestion of a science and technology museum if given the choice of school trip. This hardly comes as a surprise, as such museums are filled with innovative tech that can keep youngsters entertained for hours on end. From light installations to interactive exhibitions and tours, these kind of museums contain stimulating content that appeals to people of all ages, especially growing minds.

"Learning through play provides children with interactive games and exhibits as they make their way around the museum."

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, or MOSI for short, perfectly infuses innovative technology with traditional history. Set in the heart of a city that is synonymous with industrial change and technology, the exhibits blend two worlds together with their intelligent use of audio and visual equipment. While there are display cases filled with artifacts, they also incorporate audio accompaniments and games to keep children engaged throughout the entire museum.

Eureka!, meanwhile, is a science and technology museum based in Halifax that also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to providing an exciting atmosphere to learn in. Their focus is on ‘learning through play’ by providing children with interactive games and exhibits as they make their way around the museum. While children have fun playing, they will actually learn new skills without realising and will be much more receptive to information that is delivered in a more engaging way. For example, children can learn all about the wonderful world of digestion and the human body in the interactive ‘Me and My Body’ exhibition.

Interactive audio and visual content allows children to learn through more ways than just reading, and it is likely that children will retain more information from a positive experience and a fun day out. Considering the age that we live in where smartphones are almost an extension of our own hands and allow us to access information within seconds, it is only natural that education would follow in the same footsteps.

School trips that ignite a child’s imagination

A visit to a standard pencil factory just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t alter the environment to create a more engaging experience. Despite the popularity of science museums with pupils, teachers shouldn’t feel restricted to only taking classes to these places. Many other types of museums have used technology such as sound, lighting and interactive screens to make the experience more engaging for children - even if the main theme of the museum isn’t all that exciting.

The more visually appealing a museum is, the more attention and excitement it will generate. Establishments don't need to spend a fortune on installing huge interactive mechanisms, they simply need to improve the experience, which can be as easy as installing television screens for presentations or speaker systems that can play music or recordings to add to the overall experience. However, they could also go a step further to make the experience far more interactive such as through immersive learning environments. The possibilities truly are endless; all it takes is a little imagination.  

Do you take your pupils on scientific trips? Share your stories below.

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