On August 23rd, Explora hosted the University of Parma for an analysis of the experiences made by the children aged 3 and 5 years attending the camp in the Museum’s vegetable garden. The survey focuses on the educational method adopted while carrying out the activities and is aimed at analysing and measuring its inclusion impact.
The camp’s activity consisted of two parts: the first one taking place indoors, in the Museum, and the second one outdoors, in the vegetable garden. It engaged 7 children in tactile experimentations, observations and experiences such as planting and soil preparation.
The central focus of indoor activities was soil: children were taught, through touch, sight and direct experience, the deductive reasoning which led them to gain an in-depth knowledge of some scientific concepts.
The first game engaged children in a tactile experience of some elements such as sand, gravel and soil, hidden in magical boxes to prevent from being seen.
The test highlighted a number of assumptions which were later confirmed by observation through an optical microscope that allowed children to analyse different materials and find out about their characteristics. Experimentation and observation involved not only the soil composition, but also the microscope exploration of earthworms and roots.
After the experimentations were completed and before children left the garden, the operator showed some images/graphical data to allow children to get familiar with the correct names of plants.
The last step of the indoor activities was a role game. Children wore aprons, hats and gloves to get ready and go out in the garden.
Soil preparation was the first activity in the garden: by creating a growing bowl children were able to find out about the right proportions of clay and soil, and therefore learnt measurements in a hands-on approach.
Once the bowl was filled with soil and the mix preparation was completed, children released the earthworms in the bowl and planted aromatic plants, bean seeds, carrots and lettuce.
In the afternoon the activity continued with a multi-sensory treasure hunt to look for aromatic leaves using both sight and smell, as well as a microscope.
Part of the afternoon activity also involved a short presentation for a photovoltaic panel: given its connection with the sun movement, some concepts could be associated such as the alternation of day and night and the growth of plants.
At the end of the activity, children were allowed to bring home the pot where they had planted a bean seed.