In 2016, the Foundation donated over 3 Million Yuan and conducted experimental research on the influence of children’s museum on education and society in China in cooperation with Center on Chinese Education, Teachers College Columbia University and Children’s Museum Research Center, China Philanthropy Research Institute, Beijing Normal University. The objective of the research is to evaluate the education and social benefits of children’s museum through experimental method.
From September 2016 to October 2017, the project team divided over 100 4-year-old children into family group and kindergarten group and randomly selected from the two groups to form experimental groups (intervention groups) and matched group (control groups). Through designing incentives, the children were encouraged to visit china National Children’s Center Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Museum once in every two weeks for 8 times. The visiting time mainly concentrated in the spring semester in 2017. An intervention experiment was conducted on the project group from seven aspects such as creativity, problem-solving ability, language competence, cognitive competence.
Observations on individual family visitors and kindergarten groups
Research results indicate that the children have made improvements in terms of the fluency, originality and imagination of creativity after one semester. (See Table 3) Among them, children from the experiment group have significant improvement in fluency (See Figure 1), indicating the experience in children’s museum is conductive to improving the fluency in creativity, which represents divergent thinking. From the perspective of cognitive competence, children in the experiment group have higher scores in the second test than in the first one (See Figure 3), but the increment in experimental group is more obvious, which preliminarily indicates experience in children’s museum can improve cognitive competence. (Notes: the churn rate of family group in the second phase of data collection is about 30%)
This is the first empirical study regarding children’s museum in China and fills the research gap. Due to some limitations in the stage of preliminary experiment, such as small sample size, short intervention period and loss of participants, the analysis results might be influenced. In the meantime, the research process of preliminary experiment and the results of data analysis will also provide important reference for designing and improving various procedures in formal experiment.