Student Research Presentation on MY Town
Families enjoyed the exhibit throughout the summer...what did this exhibition teach us about our community?
A brown-bag lunch presentation.
This summer was the Salinas launch of the MY Town Pop-up Children's Museum at the CSUMB Salinas City Center.
This project - while providing a wonderful, free childrens' museum for Salinas in the summer of 2019 for nearly 6,000 attendees - also functioned as a fantastic research space for CSUMB Students. In addition to being the inaugural space for this traveling exhibition, CSUMB involved students from their Psychology and UROC and Programs in conducting research and assessment learning experience was used to improve the exhibition in real-time.
These CSUMB students, led by CSUMB Psychology PRofessor Dr. Jennifer Dyer-Seymour now invite the community to hear the results of their research, which included questions like:
- What is the impact of MY Town on kinder readiness?
- What are the cultural differences in how parents direct play?
- Is there equity in childrens' outdoor play?
- Solo parenting: do parents need a wingman to engage kids?
- Who directs playtime? Boys, girls or caregivers?
- Pretend Play, role play and functional play: at what age do these occur?
At MY Town, children hopped on bikes, wore mini cars and traveled through a miniature town. At the town library, they enjoyed over 140 books, experience storytimes, and role play as librarians checking out, shelving and creating story-based theater. My Town also featured a small make-believe produce stand, an interactive weaving wall, fun Maker Space, and Construction Zone with Imagination Playground and Building Zone. An outdoor play area celebrated Monterey County with spaces that bring the ocean, mountains, and farmers market to life. Engaging daily programming included storytimes and hands-on-crafts. The exhibition was always free to children and their accompanying adults.
The special Salinas Children's pop-up museum was created through a rich and powerful set of partnerships. Enid Ryce, the Director of CSUMB Salinas Center for Arts and Culture reached out to Lauren Cohen, Executive Director of MY Museum (Monterey County Youth Museum) asking, "How could we create a children's museum experience in Salinas where most of the children in our county reside?" Lauren stepped in to lead the design and implementation of the exhibition. Lauren and Enid looked for partners who shared an interest in creating a fun, creative space to serve our community's children.
The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) stepped up as a lead sponsor of the MY Town Pop-up Children's Museum, designing a way for children and the grown-ups in their lives to learn about safe streets through fun and play. Because Salinas currently has 8 times the national average of child pedestrian traffic fatalities, this learning is critical.
First 5 Monterey County, celebrating 20 years of collective work in early childhood education, partnered to create the outdoor Discovery Garden and support exhibition features including a special interactive giving tree and weaving wall. Using natural materials, the garden celebrated features of the Monterey County landscape and introduced creative easy ways to engage in imaginative free play.
Celebrating and supporting literacy comes naturally to the Salinas Public Library and so they designed a miniature MY Town Library, meeting the critical needs to get kids excited about books through cooperative play. This is especially important in Monterey County, where studies show only 25% of children are "kindergarten ready" in reading and social skills. Hijos del Sol Arts productions, the East Salinas-based youth-serving arts organization, created visual elements for the exhibition and workshops at exhibition events.
This is only the first stop for MY Town - the exhibition is designed to travel. After its incubation at CSUMB, the organizers are hopeful this can move throughout the county and are looking for additional sponsors and potential host sites to bring this experience to more children and families.