The answer to this question is not as apparent as it seems. Science museums do impart a lot of knowledge and teach science, but not without its drawbacks. Here are some of the arguments for and against this statement.
Increased interactive experience: Science museums are a place where people of all ages can interact with people of science directly. For instance, to complement the teaching of astronomy in theoretical classes in schools, it’s demonstrated by the help of plastic inflatable balls that act like planetariums. A sneak peek can be found at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
Develops curiosity: Progress in science is all about curiosity. The gadgets and physical demonstrations in display are vital in developing curiosity in young minds. Science museums like the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, show research simulations in a much more simplified manner. This acquaints the students with the scientific principles at a much larger depth than with text books.
Acting like science itself: Science is all about listening, understanding and revising, and science museums operate in the same manner. The museums start a sense of experimentation and verification in the minds of its visitors and this provokes curiosity and inquiry. Scientists tied to the National Museum Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo, for example, share their work and their findings from research with the common people. Consequently, people have more say and criticism is offered.
Tie-ups with Scientists: Scientists are now being associated with science museums increasingly. They not only deliver lectures and findings, but also educate and provide proper advice to the museum staff. Honesty in science is a must, and this can come only with tie ups with reputed scientists. Thus, science museums are now providing quality teaching services.
Appealing Life-like exhibits: Aquariums can be found anywhere. However, when they are fitted with State of the art microscopes to allow common people to study the microscopic realm of the ocean floor, it becomes much more appealing. Similarly, studded models of mammoths or reconfigured dinosaur bones in the Natural History Museum, London, among others, and other such exhibits teach science much more extensively.
Drawbacks: Minor, but significant drawbacks include the implicit age restrictions in certain museums. Also the approach of all students to museums is not always learning-oriented, and this needs to be curbed.
It’s only in science museums that science is actually fun. Hence, the lessons taught here remain etched in brains, young and old alike, forever.