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Student Projects

The NAT Project

Author: Emily Carter

Grade: 6th

Subjects: Math, Science

Fossil mysteries family quiz in Spanish
Interior view of the San Diego Natural History Museum with dinosaurs
Exterior view of the San Diego Natural History Museum

How can students design an engaging and interactive activity for the Natural History Museum that children will find both fun and educational?

In partnership with the San Diego Natural History Museum, Mrs. Carter’s sixth grade students created interactive exhibition activities for the Fossil Mysteries Exhibit and the Water: A California Story Exhibit. The activities were geared toward families with children aged six to twelve years old and were used to increase the “stay time” of the families at each exhibit. The Museum recommended the activity use images instead of numbers or a scavenger hunt style game suitable to elementary school age children. The activity boards were available to families that entered the museum to help foster interaction with the exhibits. The Museum was involved in all creative aspects of the project from start to finish, including a behind-the-scenes tour at the start of the project, in person feedback by the curator about the direction of the project game boards, a visit to HTMMA for critique at the halfway point, and receipt of final deliverables at the end of the project. Students exhibited their work at an after hours event at the museum for HTMMA sixth grade families.



8-10 weeks

  • Students know that the fit of the continents, location of earthquakes, volcanoes, and midocean ridges, and the distribution of fossils, rock types, and ancient climatic zones provide evidence for plate tectonics;
  • Students know how to explain major features of California geology in terms of plate tectonics (including mountains, faults, volcanoes);
  • Students know that water running downhill is the dominant process in shaping the landscape, including California’s landscape;
  • Students know the water cycle;
  • Students know different natural material resources, specifically types of rocks and fresh water;
  • Students can read topographic and geologic maps;
  • Students can construct and interpret a simple scale map;
  • Students will be able to interact, collaborate, and publish with peers and experts using a variety of digital media;
  • Students will also use digital media to produce original work and solve problems.
  1. San Diego Natural History Museum Guide/Introductory Research
  2. Portfolio of 18 images with facts based on in-class lessons/labs/activities
  3. One final image with exhibit fact for class product (in pairs)
  4. Earth Science Journal (includes reflections, research, homework, lab/activity write-ups, etc.)
Poster: Water, a California Story Family Quiz
Water: A California Story Family Quiz
Poster: Water, a California Story Family Quiz in Spanish
Agua: Una Historia de California Cuestionario Familiar
Fossil mysteries family quiz
Fossil Mysteries Family Quiz
Fossil mysteries family quiz in Spanish
Misterios de Fósiles Cuestionario Familiar

It was really amazing to see the students so motivated to do real work for the Museum! Having the Museum as a partner made a big difference as they provided critical feedback to the students that was invaluable. In the end seeing the many families play the student created games was awesome!

Presenting our work to the Museum was a little scary and their feedback really made me think about my work and how to make it better. In the end the final product looked really cool. It was fun to take my family to the Museum once it was closed and actually play our games!