A&M-Texarkana education students develop research project for Discovery Place Children’s Museum


Educators in Texas and Arkansas will have another learning opportunity for their students thanks to the research of three future teachers at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

Senior education majors Kristen Childress of Atlanta, Texas, Amanda Nix of Texarkana, Texas, and Stephanie Chickadel of Queen City, Texas, recently completed a research project that aligned exhibits at the Discovery Place Children’s Museum of Texarkana with Texas and Arkansas educational standards.

The project will assist the museum in marketing its programs to school districts as experiential learning opportunities for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, said Debbie Shidemantle with the Teacher Preparation program at A&M-Texarkana.

The students have been invited to present their work at the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education conference on Oct. 16 in San Marcos, Texas.

The title of the undergraduate research project is “Deepening Understanding of Education through Collaboration of Pre-service Teachers and Discovery Place Museum.”

“Discovery Place is a very interactive and fun museum,” Childress said. “In our research, we looked at each of the science exhibits and aligned the activities with state standards. It would be great if all school-aged children had an opportunity to visit Discovery Place as part of their learning experiences.”

Shidemantle said the research project developed organically in her Teaching Methods for Early Childhood through Grade 6 in Health, Math, Physical Education and Science course.

“Our main goal was to bring learning to life,” Nix said. “Our project was a great opportunity for us to give back to the museum and the community. It was a lot of fun, too.”

“Discovery Place has several spaces dedicated to science education,” Chickadel said. “We were able to connect the exhibits with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards, as well as Arkansas standards. This information will be available to teachers and school districts for use in planning their curricula.”

“This partnership between the Teacher Preparation students at A&M-Texarkana and our staff and board at the Texarkana Museums System has allowed us to gain valuable insight into some of our strengths here at Discovery Place Children’s Museum,” said Velvet Hall Cool, Texarkana Museums System board president. “It will also make planning a field trip much easier for local educators who will now already have a baseline of which exhibits highlight their local lesson plans. We have been very fortunate to have the support of A&M-Texarkana on this project and hope to have them back as we add future exhibits.”

In addition to speaking at the upcoming CSOTTE conference, the students will present their research findings on campus at a University Honors colloquium on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 12:15 p.m. in University Center 217 on the A&M-Texarkana campus at 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas. The public is invited.

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