The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a place where learning is made to be fun, and where fun encourages further learning. Every creative experience at BADM—from STEM and Art programs to permanent and traveling exhibits to special events and festivals—encourages children to engage with BADM’s seven, research-backed learning goals.
Each BADM learning goal describes a thinking skill, behavior, or strategy that children begin to learn or develop when participating in a BADM experience. What you’ll see as evidence of these learning goals varies by age, program, and each individual child; when your toddler plays next to another child in Tot Spot they’re learning to collaborate and when your 10-year-old asks questions about the 3-D printer in the Fab Lab they’re expressing their curiosity and learning how things work.
These learning goals, created by BADM’s in-house research department, speak to what children are able to gain from visiting our site. Read on to learn more about why each learning goal is important, and how it’s being implemented at the museum.
When children decide they want to understand something in the world around them, they’ll show more excitement about what they are learning and will be focused for longer.
- At BADM, a child’s curiosity could inspire them to explore a new space—like navigating the underwater tunnel in Bay Hall for the first time—or try a new tool—like figuring out how to use sandpaper to change the shape of a scrap of wood. Adults can build on their children’s piqued interest by using new vocabulary to answer their questions and encourage them further. Encouraging curiosity and welcoming your child’s questions will set them up for success as a lifelong learner.
Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
When children aren’t concerned with finding one right answer, and are instead encouraged to explore lots of possible answers, they are practicing creative problem-solving skills and learning to test out original hypotheses.
- BADM’s programs are purposefully open-ended, so there’s no one finished product that children are trying to create, and no one way to solve the challenge before them.
Make Thoughtful Decisions
Being able to evaluate a design or solution for what works, what doesn’t, and why can help children carefully plan which materials or tools to use and how to improve their ideas.
- In BADM’s STEM Programs, kids go through the engineering design process Think, Make, Try. If their first prototype doesn’t work as expected, they are encouraged to change their design and test it again.
Children’s ability to think develops as they learn to communicate. Asking questions, articulating answers, and talking through problems and solutions helps children build strong reasoning skills and get comfortable with the words we use to describe ideas.
- A visit to BADM provides children opportunities to do something they may have never done before or to explore a new way of doing something familiar. Adults can support kids to share their internal process by asking open-ended questions like why, what if, and how.
Take Risks and Persist Through Challenge
It’s important for kids to try new things, even if there’s no guarantee that they’ll succeed. If they see failure as part of the learning process—instead of as an end-point—they’ll be more likely to take on challenges in the future.
- At BADM, kids are safe to explore a new space, use a new tool, or build something they’ve never built before. If something doesn’t go right or work as expected, children are met with positivity and encouraged to try again.
Learn to Collaborate
When children collaborate on a project, share a toy, or explore a space together, it promotes social-emotional skills like empathy, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
- Many of BADM’s STEM and Art programs are completed by children working together to create or add to a collaborative product. Children from different communities and backgrounds learn from each other through that shared experience.
Build STEM Knowledge
Starting in infancy, children are developing an understanding of STEM concepts like cause and effect, patterns and data, structure and function, and quantity and size. Focusing on this learning during ages 0-10 sets children up for future success.
- All BADM experiences encourage children to think about ways to solve creative challenges or to test out strategies for completing unfamiliar projects. Through these activities, specific STEM knowledge is also being shared. Children gain tools and confidence to become strong lifelong STEM learners and thinkers.