Friday, July 1, 2011

The Quest for Bean Babies

By: Jenna Peterson, School and Farm Programs Intern
The school year is coming to a close, which means that school tours at NYSHA are wrapping up. This year, students visiting had the opportunity to participate in the brand new Museum Quest activity. Museum Quest is a series of up to eleven stations scattered across the Farmers’ Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum, including the Mohawk Barkhouse and the newly relocated Seneca Log House.

Each station boasts its own theme, and lasts around twenty minutes. Museum Teachers lead students through activities like discovering just what 1840’s underwear looks like, learning how to barter and trade using limited supplies, or seeing what materials make up the art in the Thaw Gallery.

Last Wednesday, I got to teach the “Bean Babies” activity. Planting is such an important part of agricultural life, and being able to see a plant grow is always an amazing sight. The activity starts by looking through the gardens at Lippit Homestead. I asked kids to decide which plant was their favorite, and to tell me five words that described each one. This led to discussion of the parts of plants and seeds. Funny thing was, one of the visiting schools had just taken a test on plants, and knew a lot more than I did!
Once the kids taught me everything I had forgotten from 6th grade biology, we moved to actually making the Bean Babies. It is pretty simple, but I think they are pretty neat. A damp cotton ball and a bean are put into a small plastic bag. The baggie is then put onto a string, and the bean baby necklace is complete. I had a handful of bean babies that had been made over the previous weeks, so the students could see just how quickly their beans would grow!
Even though things have been a bit chaotic, we have been thrilled to have so many students at the museums. Our record was 651 in one day! Around 3,500 students were able to participate in the Museum Quest program. We cannot wait to offer this program again next spring.
Next stop, Week-Long Experiences!

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