Designing with children: a museum kit for the Entomological Museum of Volos

Despina Douka
Niki Nikonanou

This master’s dissertation was composed as a thesis of a postgraduate program at the Department of Early Child Education at the University of Thessaly. This research focused on the production of educational material. More specifically it aimed at the participatory design of a museum kit for the Entomological Museum of Volos, which has been based on preschool children’s ideas. The methodological choice of our research followed the method of case study and the design of the museum kit followed the method of evaluation and the stages of front-end analysis and formative evaluation in particularly. It’s a method that helps museums to meet the needs of their visitors. The title of the museum kit is "Insects Everywhere" and it was designed with the participation of a total of 15 preschool children, who were the sample of the research. The research was divided into two stages. In the first stage participated 8 children while in the second 7 children. The aim of the museum kit is to help children to develop their creativity, to give them opportunities for contacting nature and especially insects and to gain knowledge through experiential and playful ways. Furthermore, this attempt can build a bridge of communication between museum and school. The first outcome of data analysis was about children’s reaction when contacting with insects in their immediate environment. Secondly, it was detected that preschoolers can respond positively and actively to the idea of participatory designing of a museum kit, while at the same time they are able to evaluate a material that concerns their interests. The research results reveal that children of preschool age developed feelings about insects, which were directly related to insect’s appearance. In parallel, children seemed to develop a sense of protection towards insects too. Also, the insects themselves seemed to lead the children to use their senses. Overall, the children, despite their young age, suggested a variety of ideas about the contents of the museum kit, which, after its construction, was positively evaluated by children of the same age group very actively.