On Saturday, June 6, The DoSeum, San Antonio’s Museum for Kids, will open at 2800 Broadway. When cars pass by the museum’s undulating red fence that weekend, they will see kids and families playing together in the massive West Yard, where large-scale climbing playground equipment and water features live at The DoSeum.
From 4:30-7:30 p.m. on April 29, May 7 and May 14, passersby on Broadway will not see any kids. Instead, they will see hundreds of adults inside The DoSeum –and might become confused. Those adults won’t be construction workers finishing the building, donors being recognized, or city officials convening. They will be local educators – current and aspiring elementary school teachers, counselors, administrators, professors and others who educate our city’s young children.
Before The DoSeum opens its doors to the public, we invite our city’s education community to attend “STEMTastic Educator Nights,” opportunities for local educators to not only see and explore The DoSeum, but to also hear from keynote speakers and to get curriculum resources to apply in their work. Our goal? To bolster STEM, arts, and literacy education in elementary grades by empowering our City’s educators.
These educator nights are of critical importance to our DoSeum staff – so much so that we have underwritten the cost for each educator to attend free of charge.
As we prepare to open The DoSeum, we are eager to further support what educators are doing to teach and inspire kids. We want teachers to view us as a convener, a laboratory for testing new approaches to teaching and learning and a resource to learn and experience new information and strategies to promote joyful learning and discovery in their classrooms.
Google a school district mission statement or vision statement, and you’re likely to see the words “21st Century Learning” somewhere on the website. The phrase is omnipresent, and schools across the state and country are committing to prepare kids for the century in which we live at the same time they are figuring out what, exactly, “21st Century Learning” means. While the phrase encompasses many things, one thing is clear: we have to prepare our kids to think beyond the discrete subjects traditionally taught in schools to think about the broader ideas and themes they’ll need in the future. At The DoSeum, we aim to prepare kids for their future by promoting an integrated approach to learning with a focus on STEM, the arts, and literacy.
Our first educator nights are meant to model the key role of integrated learning; STEMTastic Educator Nights will promote the importance of cross-disciplinary teaching in formal education settings. The DoSeum’s seven major indoor and outdoor exhibit galleries total over 65,000 square feet of innovative informal learning space, and start with a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focus. For many educators STEM concepts and instruction can be intimidating – studies show that often, elementary educators lack extensive backgrounds in STEM subjects. By interacting with both our exhibits and curriculum tools, educators will be able to deepen their own content knowledge in these areas that are critical for kids in today’s world.
While we are mindful of our role in providing STEM learning experiences and resources to educators, we know that the arts and literacy also play a critical role in human development. That is why we will offer learning experiences with and for educators and kids that model and encourage the blending of the arts and sciences, of form and function. Just as schools and educators often have limited resources to provide robust STEM learning experiences, there are countless examples of the arts fading from schooling. While STEM learning experiences encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and design thinking, integrating arts and literacy promotes experiences that humanize kids to one another. In an increasingly technology-driven world, providing teachers, families, and kids with authentic, emotional learning experiences and developing cross-cultural communication and competence is more important than ever.
In short, we want to be a trusted partner to teachers and schools, enabling them with tools to further support kids. It’s also about acknowledging and helping overcome the real challenges that exist in public education and schooling in-general. It’s essential that teachers know about and access the assets we have at The DoSeum – our staff of career educators, our one-of-a-kind exhibits, our partnerships with researchers, and our approach to joyful learning and discovery.
That The DoSeum is poised to open in June and add a world-class educational resource to the city’s landscape is further evidence that San Antonio is committed to the education of its children, particularly its youngest children. As much as we aim to be a world-class resource inside the walls of our home-base on Broadway, we also aim to have dramatic impacts in learning across the city. By working with educators both at The DoSeum and out in the community, will be able to help generate, provide, incubate, and multiply best practices in teaching and learning across content areas for kids from San Antonio and surrounding areas. These best practices are a part of everything we do and offer the public as well, from our camps and Little Doers program for preschoolers, to the daily and weekly programming that will live at The DoSeum.
If you are an educator, studying to become an educator, or know an educator – register online to come see us or encourage others to do so. As excited as we are to see kids exploring the museum and finding inspiration, the idea of local educators doing the same and feeling as much ownership in the museum is just as invigorating. We hope to see lots of our partners – teachers – on April 29, May 7, May 14, and many more times to come.
*Featured/top image: The DoSeum nears completion. Photo by Dror Baldinger.