Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2013

Museum Box

Curate a bit of history in a box with this unique creation site

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Teachers say (4 Reviews)
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Grades
3-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: It's easy to create a box that fits your project perfectly; layers allow for real depth of learning.

Cons: It can be a little clunky interface-wise, and there's more guidance for teachers than students.

Bottom Line: The perfect place to show off a collection or put together a history project using multimedia.

Museum Box is pretty versatile. It's a great place for kids to start learning how to use digital media in presentations, especially in history or humanities classes. Assign kids a historical figure or time period and let them figure out how to bring the subject to life within a box. The process of "opening" the box to uncover information lends itself to sharing in front of the class or in small groups, and discussions can stem from its contents. It's also a fun way to visualize text; students could write poems within the box layers for an experimental writing project. Kids can even create boxes as study aids -- the possibilities are endless!

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Museum Box is a website that allows users to curate a collection of multimedia on any subject by virtually placing and organizing items in a "museum box." It can be used for anything from history projects to family albums, and while all kid-created boxes are posted online for anyone to view, each box is approved by a moderator before publication.

Kids begin creating a museum box by choosing a topic (family, the Civil War, 1950s toy robots, etc.), then gathering multimedia that can be virtually kept in the box. The site supports text, photos, audio, and video. Once kids open the interface, they can make some decisions about their box. Each box contains a number of cubes (you can choose how many), and each side of a cube can hold a piece of media, which is uploaded, placed in My Drawer, then dragged-and-dropped into the appropriate spot. Organization and a bit of strategy comes into play here, but the layers of information that a box can hold are nearly infinite.

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Museum Box is really well-designed, and kids who like categorizing and cataloguing things will love to play around with it. There are so many options; for example, you could create a simple, single-cube box called "Chicken," featuring changes in the bird's development on each side; or a three-layered box with 24 cubes encompassing highlights of 1800s British Literature by region. The drag-and-drop interface is easy to use, and while it sometimes takes the finished boxes a little time to load, the end result is pretty cool.

Kids can learn about how to research a project, and with this kind of technology, it doesn't mean miserably thumbing through an encyclopedia. They'll explore multimedia and figure out how pieces of history fit together, whether they're photos, videos, sounds, or text. Looking at other museum boxes, there's potential for enhanced cultural understanding, as users from all over the world share historical and biographical data. Museum Box is an engaging, super-detailed place to organize information in a new, exciting way.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The multitude of media options and detailed interface demand engagement and provide tons of potential for fun. A cleanly designed drag-and-drop system is easy to nagivate. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

While putting together boxes, and the blocks within them, kids will simultaneously absorb info while learning how to organize it in a clear way. This creates a deeper understanding of the material.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Pop-ups offer technical help within the Creator tool, but most pertinent info lies in the Teachers' FAQ. All boxes are saved, evaluated for content, and then posted in the Museum Box archive.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Eric W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
West Ottawa High School Campus
Holland, MI
4
A Different Way to Create a Digital Portfolio or Presentation

** I have changed my review after using it in class.**
This tool is a good organizational device for visual learners. It helps them think about where their evidence fits into the larger whole. It's also a different way to present information, and student appreciate variety.

Boxes can be somewhat customized by users, but they are all pretty similar. It's not a tool I would overuse because the boxes end up all looking pretty similar.

The homepage allows users to view boxes created by others, but I wish there was an all-star page or something. I'd like to show my students excellent examples, but they are all sorted alphabetically or by school instead of by quality.

There are copious tutorials and help screens for teachers.

Ultimately, I can't recommend Museum Box because it is too expensive. Teachers can create a class account for around $100. Some U.K. schools have access to the site already. Users can try Museum Box, but they must pay for an account if they want to save their trial. I wish it gave users limited access for free.

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