Bay Area Discovery Museum

The Problem

The Bay Area Discovery Museum’s (BADM) education department had quickly grown from a small department of a few staff to a large team charged with developing curriculum and running on-site STEM and art programming; operating an on-site preschool; developing and facilitating off-site STEM programs for children in kindergarten-fifth grade; among other responsibilities. Without any unified pedagogy or educational framework to guide them, programmatic offerings and experiences were inconsistent for the children and families that make up BADM’s audience. In order for BADM to achieve its mission “to transform research into early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving,” there needed to be a set of standards that all staff could use – regardless of individual background or familiarity with early childhood research.

The Process

The Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC) began its work by interviewing key internal stakeholders and staff at every level of the institution. These conversations revealed the need for an Educational Rationale unique to BADM, which would be based in early learning research. Experts from the CCC spent time reviewing research relevant to STEM learning, early childhood education, and creativity; looked at state and national learning standards and goals; and carefully considered what BADM’s specific contribution to early childhood learning could and should be. This work informed the high-level content the document would need to contain. Further work with the museum’s executive and education leadership teams, as well as with BADM program managers, determined how this document could be formatted so that it would be a functional solution for the current staff who employ it, and could evolve to serve the future staff who would rely on it as the museum continued to grow and scale.

The Solution

The CCC authored an Educational Rationale that articulates BADM’s pedagogical approach in a way that is digestible for any staff member and serves as the foundation and framework for curriculum and exhibition development. The Educational Rationale additionally serves as a tool for training staff, and as a guide for the evaluation of BADM’s educational work. To ensure the adoption and long-term use of the rationale, the CCC recorded webinars and training documents to introduce the rationale to current staff and seamlessly onboard new staff. Use of the Educational Rationale now spans the entire organization.

BADM’S Educational Rationale includes: