Danmal Mathur Museum

Developing customised Museum Learning Toolkits for the unique museum on campus

Client: Mayo College, Ajmer , India

What I did: Learning Experience Design, Content development, Research, Conceptualisation, Faculty Engagement 

Date: 2016 – 2018

From August 2016 to Feb 2018, I developed Museum Learning Toolkits that connected classroom learning goals with the collection of Danmal Mathur Museum on the campus of  Mayo College, Ajmer to provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke imagination and make topics taught in school come alive! 

For the junior school (classes 3-5), I created 4 toolkits that took a trans-disciplinary, object-based learning approach. Each toolkit focused on a distinct theme – history, environment, geology and, society and culture. The toolkit used an inquiry-based approach. The Museum Learning Toolkit offered the possibility that not only the teachers but the students as well could guide the content and direction of the learning.

Close investigation of objects like skulls helped the students uncover whether the animal was a meat eater, plant eater or both. A debate ensued on the ethics of taxidermy. A closer look at grades of coal led to an excited discussion on consumption of renewable and non-renewable fuel and its impact on climate.  The armoury gallery became an exciting place for the  discovery of simple and compound machines that surround us (and how a human body is a machine too! ) while a collection of eggs narrated a story of a sleepy egg march that led to the understanding of factors and multiples! 

For the middle school (Class 7 & 8), I created twelve subject specific toolkit consisting of 100+ museum learning lesson plans. These lesson plans covered subjects from History, Languages, Mathematics, English, Geography and Science and looked at themes relevant to the CBSE curriculum like environment, human rights, gender, sound, area and volume, laws of probability, conservation etc.

Each Museum Learning Toolkit comprised of :

a. Kit Introduction that gave an overview of the project, introduced the methodology of museum learning and provided fluid guidelines about taking students to museum.

b. Lesson plans with detailed facilitation notes , corresponding activity sheets,supporting resources and reference map of the museum

c. Evaluation Frameworks that would be applicable to each project comprising of frameworks for the participating students, the implementing faculty and external observers from the faculty pool and school management

Working on this project with a team of subject experts and learning experience designers was a tremendous learning experience for me. With my background in the arts and humanities, I learnt a lot about applying mathematics and science in the everyday context. 

Some of the most fun lesson plans that I enjoyed writing: 
a. Understanding the concept of probability using Ganjifa cards. 
b. Using object stories to create a ‘Gender game’ that helps sensitise students towards gender discrimination and stereotyping. 
c. Having student write an authentic self-profile that communicates their interests, aspirations and strengths. 
d. Understanding India’s history of colonisation using 10 Museum Objects. 
e. Understanding different types of motion by observing the movement of different objects in the museum. 
f. Understanding sound through musical instruments and hypothesizing how the length of sarod’s string, the size of flute’s air column and depth of the tabla’s shell changes sound frequencies. 

This is what the the Director of Mayo College Ajmer, Lt Gen Surendra Kulkarni had to say about my work:

The Museum Learning Tool Kit is the result of ingenious pedagogical research work undertaken by Ms Habiba Insaf. It presents a collection of innovative and creative practices which add value to Teaching learning transactions. The Museum Tool Kit designed for Mayo College has been tailor made keeping in mind the needs of Teachers and Students. I compliment Ms Habiba Insaf for completing a daunting task with utmost professionalism.

Lt Gen Surendra Kulkarni , Director, Mayo College, Ajmer, India

The museum learning toolkits were an outcome of the joint venture between Mayo College, Ajmer and Flow India. The two year long project was conceptualised and created by me during my time as the Head of Pedagogy and Learning for Flow India, Delhi.