Chicago Sights: Shedd Aquarium Offers Tech Based Learning

Science Tech Treks Program at Shedd Aquarium

As much as people would love to believe, most homeschoolers don’t actually stay in the home all day schooling their children. We like to get up and out as much as possible, and I always think that adding technology into the mix is a great way to keep my little ones focused. They like the techie aspects of school, just as much as the good ol’ pencil to paper aspects. This is one reason we are itching to get to the Shedd Aquarium to use their Science Tech Treks tablets that coincide with various exhibits throughout the aquarium. 

British School of Chicago Students using Science Tech Treks program at Shedd Aquarium

Last month, I got a bit of a sneak peek as students from the British School of Chicago, broke the program in. About 50 fourth and fifth graders were able to test drive the iPad programs for the first time, and I was able to watch them in their small groups as they learned about habitats, and environments. They were able to delve deeper into what makes up a habitat, and how each of those animals were a perfect fit for it. Asking questions about why certain items in the habitat were a benefit for those animals living there are examples of questions that had to be answered. 

Shedd says: 

Our learning experiences for grade 3 through grade 5 are an all-NEW series of dynamic exhibit-based learning opportunities. These programs get your students into the aquarium to explore, observe and think. They’ll use tablets to photograph and collect data on the animals and their habitats. Then back in the classroom, you’ll receive an electronic copy of your students’ work to build on the field trip experience with engaging post-trip activities.

Shedd Aquarium Science Tech Treks example screen

I happen to love the fact that the Shedd will mail teachers and homeschoolers a comprehensive email letting the teachers know just how much each small group got through, and they types of answers they came up with. Teachers can then extend these units and send the information home with parents. 

British-School-Using-

I did get a chance to ask if this was available to regular visitors of the Shedd instead of just classrooms, and they are available to homeschoolers. I do believe guests will have to inquire in general. What a wonderful concept for kids, right? No more need for them to carry around bulky clipbooards, pencils and papers and answering worksheets. Instead they have a feel for what other scientist may do in the field, and they get to learn more on their level. 

Teachers also have a chance to really roam around and see how discussions are going with each small group, and can answer questions instead of making sure that each child is completing those worksheets. Can you tell I didn’t like worksheets at museums when I was younger, or when Nathaniel was in elementary school. 

This program, I believe will try expanding to all exhibits in the aquarium, but for right now, there are limited units. Check it out today! 

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