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Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. The Open Lot. EDUC 303x: Designing Learning Spaces May 30, 2008 Dave Haynie Dana Nelson Sarah Parikh Nesra Yannier. Design Process. Design Challenge. Determining Goals. Documents on previous ideas. CDM Goals.

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Children s discovery museum of san jose

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

The Open Lot

EDUC 303x: Designing Learning Spaces

May 30, 2008

Dave Haynie

Dana Nelson

Sarah Parikh


Determining goals
Determining Goals

Documents on previous ideas

Cdm goals
CDM Goals

“Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.” –Richard Louv

  • Connect the community through the history of the area

  • Connect the community to nature by observing and interacting with it

  • Inspire wonder and curiosity in children and adults

  • Create a sunny-day destination

  • Attract and accommodate large number of visitors (400,000 annually)

  • Offer new interactive exhibits that respond to children's diverse educational needs

  • Invite self-directed, open-ended exploration

  • Share the importance of the river as a life source

  • Tell a story through the exhibit

Team goals
Team Goals

  • Make it equal to or more exciting than the indoor space

  • Tell a storythrough the exhibits [Exploratorium]

  • Learning should be a high priority in the outdoor space

  • Create a unique gateway to the outside area and a the pathway through the exhibits clearly marked and visible [Exploratorium]

  • Include places to sit and connect

  • Create visibility within the area, especially from the sitting areas

  • Consider the weather and positioning of the sun [Y2E2]

  • Partitions and groupings of exhibits on the same topic may also help visitors to make connections between exhibits [Exploratorium]

  • Include both single user and multiple user exhibits [Solitary vs Shared]

Brainstorming themes

  • Cycles of Life

  • Exploration

  • Adventure

  • Bugs/Animal Life

  • Water

  • River History

  • Cultures

  • Camps of Inhabitants

  • Ecology—human impact

Brainstorming exhibits

  • Nature and science: shadows, rainbows, sky, sun/moon, magnetism, rocks, fire

  • Navigation—compass, maps, GPS orientation

  • Identification of Nature—plants, insects, trees, etc.

  • Weather—rain, clouds, snow, fog, temperature, thunder/lightning, etc.

  • Microscopeplay—bucket river water, mud

  • Ropes—pioneering

  • Energysources—sun, windmill, watermill

  • Bones—digging and discovery

  • Optics—light

Brainstorming f ence

  • Transparency

  • Visibility and interest generation

  • Fort wall w/ raised walkway

  • Writing surfaces built in

  • Interchangeable panels/content

  • Sand art in the wall

  • Waterfall/waterway—collecting rainwater

  • Exhibits in the wall (ant farm, etc. cross sections), animal homes/windows

  • Interactive on both sides—3D pins

  • Surfaces where kids can display their artwork

History research

  • 1769-1846: Spanish explorers colonize California

  • 1777: Mission San Jose is founded

  • 1846: California is annexed to the US

  • 1887: San Jose’s Chinese population builds Woolen Mills, Chinatown (burned down in 1902)

  • 1966: Guadalupe Parkway built

Exhibit areas
Exhibit Areas

Other River Inhabitants (insects)

Chinese Immigrants

Spanish Missionaries

Ohlone Indians

Prehistoric Animals

Other river inhabitants
Other River Inhabitants

  • A variety of other creatures inhabit the river as well, including insects, reptiles, and mammals

  • Exhibit Ideas

    • Use the wall to demonstrate living spaces of other local inhabitants

    • Ants, bees, squirrels, coyotes, etc.

  • Fence Implications

    • Cross sections of fence may display insects in action

    • Portions of fence may hold interactive homes where children may crawl through

Chinese immigrants
Chinese Immigrants

Brief history:

  • Presence in San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley since early 1850s

  • Majority peasants from villages in southern China

  • Seeking gold and good wages to send back to China to support their families and villages

  • Late 19th century San Jose’s agricultural and industrial economy relied on Chinese labor

  • Built houses along river

  • Established and worked in Woolen Mills on river

Chinese exhibits and fence
Chinese Exhibits and Fence

  • Exhibit Ideas

    • Energy sources in nature – industrial economy

    • How people create energy from nature

      • Windmill

      • Watermill

      • Solar power

  • Fence Implications

    • Front of Chinese house as part of fence

    • Ladder going up to balcony – climb up peek through the windows and see the river

    • Kids paint the walls of the house, add bricks to some parts

    • Water mill – lighting up bulbs in the house

    • Rainy weather – collect rain water, run faster, more energy created

Chinese area fence implications
Chinese Area Fence Implications

  • How the fence fits in

    • front of a Chinese house as one of the parts of the fence

    • ladder going up to the balcony – climb up peek through the windows and see the river

    • Kids paint the walls of the house, add bricks to some parts

    • Water mill – lighting up bulbs in the house

    • Rainy weather – collect rain water, run faster, more energy created

Spanish missionaries
Spanish Missionaries

Brief History:

  • Santa Clara Mission was founded in 1777 along the Guadalupe River.

  • Founders probably traveled here by boat.

  • It had to be rebuilt many times due to floods and earthquakes.

Spanish exhibits
Spanish Exhibits

  • Look out to the Guadalupe River

  • Build small towers with actual building materials

  • Plant, care for, and harvest crops

  • Use navigation techniques including compass and GPS

Spanish learning and implications
Spanish Learning and Implications

  • Learning

    • Can visitors navigate to specified locations?

    • Are the plants growing?

    • Do visitors come back and check on them?

    • Are kids more interested in gardening at home?

  • Fence implications

    • The tower should be close to the fence.

    • The tower or mission style walls could be part of the fence.

Ohlone indians exhibit
Ohlone Indians Exhibit

  • Building Tule reed huts

  • Using a mortar and pestle to make paint

  • Harvesting (snacking on) indigenous edible plants

Ohlone exhibit learning


Learn a bit about the people who used to live in this area

Enduring understanding: the environment is rich and full of plants that can be used for building shelter, painting, and eating

Assessment: How much time is spent at this exhibit? Do people try to build? Do they experiment with the mortar and pestle? Later, can kids recognize berries that are safe to eat?

Fence Implications

Fence integrates indigenous plants and building materials

Berries can grow on the fence-- an edible fence!

Can have windows to look out at river

Ohlone Exhibit Learning

Past animals

Grizzly bear

Black bear

Tule elk

Black-tailed deer


Mountain Lion


Gray Fox







California sea lion

Sea otter

Harbor seal








Western Grebe


Past Animals

Past animals1


Time spent digging

Number of Holes Dug

Number of Bones found

Number of Bones Identified

Success in identifying bones

How the fence fits in

Section of wall with bones in it could be incorporated into the fence

Past Animals


  • Prototyping

    • Select visitor use prior to full museum access

    • Includes observations, filming, interviews, etc.

  • Roll-out Review

    • Intense scrutiny of learning and responses upon initial opening

    • Observations, questioning, surveys

  • Direct Assessments Through Use

    • How long do visitors spend at exhibits

    • How much of a given input is used—maps, paint, bricks, cards, etc.

    • How many people follow up online on exhibit website

    • How many drawings are posted, questions left

  • Scheduled Assessments

    • At regularly scheduled intervals (e.g., every other year) perform an inventory of leaning impact on guests

Learning theories our users
Learning Theories: Our Users

  • Piaget

    • Theory of Cognitive Development: emergence and construction of schema

      • Preoperational period (years 2-7)-- need experiences, logic skills not refined

      • Concrete operational period (years 7-11)-- more developed classification and logic skills

Learning theories our design
Learning Theories: Our Design

  • Jerome Bruner

    • Discovery Learning

      • Students are more likely to remember concepts if they discover them on their own

    • Instructional Scaffolding

      • Sufficient supports (such as a compelling task or resources) promote learning when concepts are first introduced.