"The event itself is designed to give students a holistic and robust experience exploring the topic of sustainability"
Although we collaborate closely with our colleagues at the Royal BC Museum, IMAX® Victoria is a separate organization. There are barriers to collaboration (such as operation differences, the timelines on which decisions need to be made, resources available, scheduled content, pricing, and mandates), but the Learning Department of the Museum and the theatre have historically tried to offer cohesive programming. This is especially true when we get films that meet the needs of British Columbian Educators. Dream Big: Engineering Our World was one of those films. We had a very successful experience designing and implementing a collaborative program for school groups, and it continues today.
In 2017, with the opening of MacGillivray Freeman’s Dream Big: Engineering Our World, we started an initiative called The Sustainability Challenge. The program started in its first year as a one-day event that involved six classes (approximately 170 people) from the Greater Victoria School District. In its second year, we expanded it to 6 days and 22 classes (approximately 650 people), and last year we expanded again to run 15 days with 39 classes (approximately 1,320 people). We are confirmed to be running the program again in 2020 and look forward to seeing if we can continue to grow the program.
All of the students involved are in grades 6 and 7. In 2019, every grade 6 (or 6/7 split) class of one of the three main School Districts participated. Our dream for the program is to have every grade 6 class in the Victoria area participate, which would include two additional school districts’ participation.
The event itself is designed to give students a holistic and robust experience exploring the topic of sustainability. The goal is that with one field trip, educators can meet a number of curriculum points and know that the day will be an authentic learning experience.
The program starts with a member of the Learning Team doing site visits to each of the classes to introduce the topic and provide directions to the students and educators. On each day, 2-4 classes participate. The classes start with the Learning Team for an orientation where they are primed to watch the movie and told what to watch for and what may give them inspiration. Dream Big: Engineering Our World plays at 10:00 AM.
After the film, the classes break into teams—Critique Team, Communications Team, and Design Team—each accomplishing the following:
- Critique Team: This team gets interviewed by the Communications team about their experience as citizens. Their input informs the solution that the other teams come up with. At the end of the day, the critique team evaluates the designs presented based on a criteria they co-create as a team.
- Communications Team: This team interviews the Critique Team about their experience. They prepare ideas, which get handed off to the Design Team for implementation, and are ultimately responsible for presenting the solution to everyone.
- Design Team: This team builds on the notes of the Communications team to design a specific solution to the Challenge and build a prototype.
- Design a sustainable school
- Design the transportation of the future
- Redesign a consumer product we use every day to be more sustainable
- Design a sustainable home
The day culminates with each team presenting their solutions to their challenge.
The keys to our collaboration on the project were keeping booking procedures and pricing simple, having an advocate within the School District, and actively soliciting educator feedback on the program.
"The Sustainability Challenge took a film and turned it into a successful
annual program that engages our community, contributes to attendance
goals, and builds relationships with key stakeholders"
We were very lucky to have an advocate, Aaron Maxwell, from within the Victoria School District approach us to put together this kind of immersive learning experience. Over the four years of the Sustainability Challenge, Aaron took responsibility for connecting with colleagues about the program, sending out information through internal school district emails, coordinating the schedules of participants, and advocating for the program to other educators. Working with Aaron allows us an inside track to teachers and also presents the program as a collaborative experience.
Working directly with Aaron has also given us the opportunity to design the program to directly meet educator needs. Through ongoing meetings between Aaron, the Museum Learning Team, and IMAX Victoria, we co-created the program together. After each year, we have solicited feedback from all educators involved and continue to tailor to program. For instance, offering pre-event site visits came out of educator feedback. Teachers from year two felt their students needed more clarity prior to arriving at the museum, we adjusted the program the following year to meet those needs.
Lastly, one of our main goals for this program has been to balance a robust program with an easy booking procedure and price. Both the Museum and IMAX Victoria came up with a new pricing metric for this specific event in order to make booking more predictable for educators. The pricing model is to offer one block price for both the museum and IMAX theatre on a class basis, instead of a per student basis for each attraction separately as we do for all other programming. A maximum number of participants was set, but this system made it much easier for educators to plan their budgets.
The Sustainability Challenge took a film and turned it into a successful annual program that engages our community, contributes to attendance goals, and builds relationships with key stakeholders. It has been a huge success story for us as a theatre, and we hope to replicate it with other films in the future.
Submitted by Lea Silver
Sales and Membership Services Manager
For more information about IMAX Victoria's Sustainability Challenge, contact Lea at email@example.com