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Valley Parents: Montshire Museum starts online workshops for families

  • Katie Kalata Rusch, exhibits developer and project coordinator at the Montshire Museum of Science, places books on a shelf on a new permanent exhibition designed to introduce infants, toddlers and preschoolers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. Staff members were finishing up work on the exhibit on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Norwich, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley Parents Correspondent
Published: 2/12/2021 11:06:49 AM
Modified: 2/12/2021 11:06:47 AM

NORWICH – It can be hard to be a hands-on museum during the pandemic.

For more than 40 years, the Montshire Museum of Science has been a place for curious children and budding scientists to use their imagination to learn about the world around them.

That presented staff with a challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and temporarily closed the museum. Museum educators got work creating new ways for kids to learn science at home through virtual programs and increased their social media presence to keep connected with visitors they’d usually see in person. This was quite the shift for the nonprofit organization, as the majority of their programs had been traditionally held in person.

Staff created “Montshire at Home,” to try to fill that void. The program series includes online resources, such as downloadable at-home projects, activities, worksheets and videos for parents and educators. There’s also a virtual workshop series, where educators teach programs that pair a prepared kit to make a science project during a live-streamed class. The cost for each program varies. Topics range from exploring how objects fly, float and fall in the air to solar-powered critters, which the museum is doing in partnership with the film 2040 showing at the Hop as part of the Science on Screen series. The virtual workshop series is a way for students to explore different areas in science with the direction of a teacher, Director of Education Lisa Brahms said.

“A nice thing that developed from creating the Montshire at Home series is seeing the importance of the actual people, the educators themselves, and what role they play with our families and with our visitors,” Brahms said. “It’s the teachers that the patrons have a relationship with and when they come to the museum again they can continue to have that relationship with them.”

The Montshire has remained open to visitors a limited capacity and with added safety protocols. Though the museum usually serves patrons on both sides of the river, due to state guidelines, New Hampshire residents have not been able to visit the museum in person. YouTube and Pintrest has become the norm for connecting with the community, Marketing and Communications Manager Trish Palao said. They have also used this opportunity to highlight marginalized voices in the STEM community.

“It actually became this opportunity for us to grow our social media offerings and to really think about how we were connecting with people and to consider more thoughtfully the information we were sharing with people,” Palao said.

The Montshire has continued to offer programs like the Science Discovery Lab and it’s weekly Science Story Time series with limited capacity. It will also continue to do annual events like the popular igloo build on Feb. 13. This year, leading up to the event, the Montshire will have classes and resources pertaining to snow science and the cultural history of igloos. They also have a program to instruct people how to build your own igloo at home. The event will be limited by state guidelines, but will be livestreamed for those who can’t attend in person.




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