Science is too interesting to keep it cloistered in the classroom! For almost 30 years, we have been sharing the wonders of nature with others in our school through the use of display cases and exhibits located outside the classroom. While doing science in the hallway or other non-traditional settings may seem a bit unorthodox, this form of informal education beckons members of the entire school community to learn just how interesting and enjoyable science can be.
Science displays are always a favorite of parents attending a school’s open house. Adults are always interested in seeing what goes on in their son or daughter’s school, and science displays provide one window into the school’s academic program. Parents often comment that the science displays are the highlight of the open house.
Our first involvement in hallway science displays occurred when we realized that the primary use of our school’s display cases was to store and display trophies. Many cases were not used at all. It occurred to us that we might be able to use these showcases as extensions of the classroom. Our very first effort revealed that a science showcase attracts both science students and non-students alike. In fact, we learned that the display case is an excellent way of introducing non-science students to the wonders of the various scientific disciplines. Students often spend their passing periods trying to understand some phenomenon that to them seems paradoxical or a violation of common sense.
Interactivity is the key to a good display. Doing, not just looking and reading, engages both hands and minds. Furthermore, the more open-ended an activity, the better. Individuals should be able to view the apparatus as a vehicle of discovery and feel free to ask, “what will happen if I do this or that.” As you’ll see, even displays behind glass can be interactive.
The following examples of hallway exhibits and display cases have been very popular with our students. While inexpensive and simple to build and use, they have provided hundreds of students of all ages with a great deal of pleasure and perhaps a desire to learn more about the wonderful world in which they live. Hopefully, these exhibits will get you thinking about ways of decking your halls with science!