In Development (TW)

Currently in development: a redeployment of the Talking Walls program created by Brandon Kwaselow and Anna Musial.

Proposal: Talking Walls, in partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

Junior fellows:  Andrea Jenkins, Anna Musial, Brian Jennings, Quazie

UM Faculty advisors:  Jeff Kupperman, Gary Weisserman

Talking Walls Overview:

Talking Walls will be a website where kids can blog about scientific phenomenon that can be witnessed in everyday life.  At Talking Walls, children will be asked questions such as “when did the leaves begin to fall?” or “where can you find black squirrels in your community?” to prompt them to begin thinking about such encounters.  In response, students will work with their parents and use various forms of media to create rich, thoughtful stories about their experiences.  Thinking and blogging about such experiences will lead children to have a greater awareness for future phenomenon and to be more attentive to their environment.  Also, as children read other’s responses, they will begin to see commonalities between themselves and other kids.  This will help them understand the significance of their experiences and create personal connections with others, resulting in a sense of community. 

Target Audience: 

Ages 10 – 12 (Primarily upper-elementary)

Educational Goals:

Entry Points:


A child and her parent walk up to a brightly decorated kiosk in the museum.  On the main screen is a map centered on the museum, with lots of "pushpin" markers in different places.  The map can be scrolled, zoomed in or out, etc.  Each marker is linked to a "geo-blog" – a story about a particular person in a particular place, with a special focus on human interaction with the natural world.  The geo-blogs have been made by other visitors to participating museums, along with school groups and members of the general public.  When they find a story that is particularly interesting or relevant to them, they post a short comment, which is attached to the geo-blog pending approval by project staff.  The child and parent then talk about a story they could share, prompted by a set of questions with a focus that may be particular to that museum, and may change weekly or monthly.  They then click the appropriate place on the map (or search for an address), and enter the story it into the computer in text and/or multimedia form.  The story is checked by project staff and within a few days appears on the site, both at the kiosk and on the web, where the child and parent can show it off to others.  Later, as they find other geo-blogs that have commonalities with theirs, they add links to those blogs in their own blog.

On the Kiosk:

Creation of a Historical Archive:

The best stories can be correlated to create a book of experiences that report an informal history of the community.  An online publisher such as Café Press could be used to print books giving interested parents the option to purchase the book online (with zero upfront costs to the museum).

Also when children come back to re-visit the museum, they will be able to see their own work that they contributed to a science related theme via the website archives or the printed books (if the museum chooses to purchase some).

Other ideas that may or may not be worth pursuing:

Follow up activities that could include data collection

Dial-a-blog:  To solicit more blog entries, users could call-in a blog entry.  There could be posters around the area that say, for example:

Have an adult call 555-5555, and tell us what you see here right now. 
Your story will become part of the "Talking Walls" exhibit.

At the kiosk, have a printer so users can print out their own poster.