After our first meeting at the Museum of the Earth, I had mixed feelings about the project we were about to begin work on. On the one hand, I was excited to contribute to something “real,” a museum exhibit, instead of doing the usual final project that has significance only in the class I’ve created it for. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure if we were the right people for the job. Originally, I thought that students in a freshman level class wouldn’t have the appropriate level of knowledge and experience to create an information guide to the public on such a delicate, important topic.
After completing the project, my opinion on this is mixed. I’ve definitely come to see the project as a win-win situation for both the Museum and the students in my class. As the students do research and work on the project, they gain knowledge while the Museum gains an addition to their exhibit. It’s true that while doing research I often found myself feeling less knowledgeable than I would have liked about many of the topics I was reading about and then writing about in the project, however I also realized that our less educated perspective was also an asset to the exhibit. As we were often reminded, the exhibit is intended for the general public, so our content should be structured appropriately. As those with a perspective between the well-educated on climate change and the general public perhaps we were the bridge the exhibit needed. I am also reminded that our professor and teaching assistant, who certainly have the qualifications I was worried we may have lacked, were there to guide and edit our work so that any factual errors or gaps were corrected and filled.
In the end, I’m definitely proud of the final product (I know I’ll be bringing my parents to see the exhibit!) and I think it was a fun way to integrate the theme of the semester, taking action, with an academic project.
-Fiona Kirkpatrick, Cornell University Student