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Designing an Exhibit

This modelling the tools is incorporated into critical challenges at grade 8, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.


Session One

Distinguish between qualities and techniques

  • To create the best possible exhibit, students need to distinguish between the qualities and techniques of effective exhibits. To help students make these important distinctions, create a two-column chart with the headings "Qualities (the effects or feelings)" and "Techniques (ways to achieve the quality)." In the Qualities column, write the words "soft" and "hard." Explain that qualities are characteristics or attributes that objects have. Ask students what kinds of materials are soft, e.g., fur, feathers, and what kinds of materials are hard; e.g., metal, wood, plastic. Explain that these materials can be added to the Techniques column because they are ways or means that achieve that particular quality. For example, if we were asked to make a soft pillow, we would use a technique to achieve this quality by selecting materials that are soft, such as feathers.

(the effects or feelings)

(ways to achieve the quality)

  • soft
  • fur
  • feathers
  • silk
  • hard
  • metal
  • wood
  • steel

Reinforce the concepts

  • To ensure that students understand that the heading Qualities applies to objects and events, use school experiences as a new example. Ask students to suggest some of the qualities of classroom work; e.g., boring, interesting, fun. Record these qualities in the left-hand column. For each quality, ask students to suggest techniques or ways that represent the quality; e.g., long lectures, engaging text or videos, games at recess and gym.

Explore effective and ineffective exhibits

  • Ask students who have been to a museum to identify their favourite displays and to indicate why. Using the same two-column chart, record the qualities of these exhibits that made them favourites; e.g. informative, interesting, fun. For each quality, ask students to identify the methods or techniques used in the exhibit to achieve that effect. For example, displays are fun because the exhibit is interactive, life-like and uses bright colours. Use a new chart to repeat this exercise for exhibits that students considered uninteresting or boring.

Introduce sample exhibits

  • Explain that students will compare the qualities and techniques of two sample exhibits. Organize students into pairs and give each group a copy of Comparing Two Exhibits. Explain that the purpose of this exercise is to identify the qualities of ineffective and effective exhibits so that students will be able to create an effective exhibit and avoid the pitfalls of ineffective exhibits. Explain that the sample exhibits show contrasting ways to construct an ancient Roman arch. Direct attention to the first exhibitand point out that although this is only a drawing, the actual exhibit has an interactive feature in which a visitor can place the numbered blocks in the basket onto the numbered template on the platform. After the blocks have been successfully matched to the numbered template, visitors can pull up the platform to test the self-standing arch. Visitors can also arrange the blocks improperly to see the arch crumble before them. Ask students to determine if this exhibit is effective and to provide reasons for their assessment. See the teacher briefing sheet Analyzing the Sample Exhibits, which providesa sample assessment of successful and unsuccessful techniques.

Record criteria for effective exhibits

  • Use the two-column chart to list student descriptions of qualities and techniques of effective exhibits. During the discussion, help students to distinguish between qualities and techniques. Use the prompts provided in Analyzing the Sample Exhibits to guide students’ responses toward the qualities and techniques of an effective exhibit. Repeat this process for the second example, which is on ineffective exhibits. After completing both charts, ask students to agree upon the criteria for an effective exhibit. Focus on these qualities:
    • interesting and engaging
    • visually well-balanced
    • understandable for intended audience
    • educational and informative.

Record the criteria on chart paper and post for future reference.


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Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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