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July 30, 2012

invention invention everywhere!

Since Smithsonian Affiliations started collaborating with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, we’ve learned a lot about Places of Invention.  (See this blog to learn more about our collaboration.) 

Affiliate staff and their community partners, on the roof of the National Museum of American History during the kickoff workshop for Places of Invention

Affiliates have joined the action too.  On June 15, Affiliate staff and their community partners joined a day-long workshop to kickoff their individual research projects around their own communities and what makes them so innovative.  (Read more about the kickoff workshop on the Lemelson Center’s blog, Bright Ideas.)

Now, we are all much more attuned to what makes a place of invention – be it exceptional natural resources, the right mixture of people and skills, or an inspiring location… or something else.  Invention was readily on view during a recent trip to western Massachusetts, and we suspect, can be documented in many other communities as well.

Join the quest for invention and share your stories with us!

 

July 24, 2012

Recap: 2012 Affiliations National Conference

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us in Washington, D.C., June 12-14, 2012. At your request we’ve compiled all your post-conference resources below—from contact info to agenda, presentations to photos. In order to access the resources, please log in to the Affiliate-only section of our website.

Here’s what your fellow Affiliate colleagues said about this year’s conference:

The conference was fantastic!  I really enjoyed the various sessions and found the information presented to be very useful.  I am looking to sharing the information with my staff and seeing how to integrate some on the new information into what we do. I heard a number of attendees say that the Affiliates Conference is by far one of the most beneficial conferences available in the museum field today.  I have to definitely agree!
Angelica Docog, Executive Director, Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, Texas.

The experience was enriching at both levels, the professional as well as the personal. Key speakers were magnificent and the presenters were all very inspiring. It was also amazing to be able to visit the Natiponal Museum of African Art, meet its director, and attend three social events that allowed us to extend the affiliate´s possibilities for networking.”
- Doreen Colón-Camacho, Director of Education, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Every conference has been an enjoyable experience, but this year had a new feeling of energy and excitement.  We think that Secretary Wayne Clough has turned out to be an outstanding addition to the Smithsonian Institution.  He seems to have genuinely embraced the power and vision of the Affiliations Program.  He has discovered what all of you, and all of us have always known, that the Affiliations Program is the perfect method to deliver the Smithsonian to communities throughout America.”
- Kate Neumiller Schureman, Sr. V.P. of Programs, Lakeview Museum/Peoria Riverfront Museum in Lakeview, Illinois.

Who attended?

This year, 65 staff members representing 46 Affiliates attended the conference.  Registrants came from 21 states and Puerto Rico. Looking to follow-up on an idea with a fellow attendee? Click here for a list of registrants and their contact information.

Where can I find copies of session presentations?

Presentations which we had permission to share can be found here and include any additional resources the speakers thought would be helpful. REMEMBER, you must log in to the Affiliate-only section of the website to access this material.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Are we missing something you’d like to see? Is there a Smithsonian contact you’d like to have? Contact Elizabeth Bugbee (202-633-5304, BugbeeE@si.edu) for more information. 

Where can I view more of these fantastic photos?

View and download photos from the Conference from our 2012 Affiliations National Conference Flickr photostream.

 

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Kudos Affiliates! July-August 2012

As summer heats up, so too do Affiliate accomplishments!

The Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received a new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, to establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China. The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) will receive a $1.8 million grant over three years as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing program. The three-year grant will be used for programs to increase student and public awareness and understanding about the history of racial oppression in this country.

The Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, New York) has received a grant of $286,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The highly competitive grant, awarded to only a few museums nationwide, will complete the revitalization of the Carriage Museum with two new exhibition galleries.

The GAR Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio), for educational programming at Hale Farm & Village.

Three Affiliates received Smithsonian Community Grants program sponsored by MetLife Foundation as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES):

  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas) received $5,000 to fund programming that fosters self-identification and pride for dual heritage African-Native Texans. The grant will support honoraria for several scholars, craft and educational materials, and the marketing and advertising of events related to the themes of IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
  • San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) was awarded $3,750 to fund the honoraria of Native American skate industry professionals who will participate in a panel discussion. The grant will also support the marketing of programming related to the themes of Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnville, Oregon) will receive $2,160 to fund the busing of economically disadvantaged and minority youth in the regional Portland area to view Black Wings: An American Dream of Flight.

A technology upgrade for Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) is the result of a Permian Basin Area Foundation $5,000 grant. This technology upgrade will help support the museum’s existing website and social media sites.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of their 2012 Leadership in History Awards Winners including the following Affiliates:

  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona) for the exhibit Many Mexicos: Vistas de la Frontera
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana) for the exhibit 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana.
  • Montana Historical Society (Bozeman, Montana) and Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Divisions for Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators.
  • North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the exhibit The Story of North Carolina.
  • Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, Ohio) for the exhibit Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See; for the Ohio as America Online 4th Grade Textbook; and for the Ohio History Service Corps-AmeriCorps Program.

July 17, 2012

Mission Possible: Bridging the Gap

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern Lisa Hung (University of California, Irvine) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share her experience with us. Here, Lisa reflects on what participating in these workshops meant to her. 

Writing 6 word stories that interpret what we see in this piece to spark our creativity, an example of the lively classroom environment EdLab promotes.

She looks up and directs her attention to the front of the room, cringing as she hears the sound of cars zoom across the board with each title. With each chunk of text, she winces at the click of the typewriter flying in from the left of the screen letter by excruciating letter. We’ve all been there; the mess of slides horribly incorporating sounds and effects on a PowerPoint presentation in attempts to bridge the technological gap between students and teachers. Kim Skerritt and Jeff Meade mentioned during the last EdLab workshop, if you don’t feel that the technological aspect of the project will add to the assignment then leave it out.

I was once that girl prefacing each blog I had written for this series, distracted and driven by routine. I’ve been in classrooms where the homework and projects were pulled directly out of the books and listened to lectures in which the material reiterates the textbook verbatim. At the end of the EdLab workshops, we all sought to create our own mission based projects and asked ourselves, as teachers; would we find joy in grading these assignments?Ultimately, what I love about the EdLab workshops is that it does an amazing job integrating our community, interests, and learning while remaining modern. EdLab conducts the workshop in a way that allows for a safe space for the educators to explore and experiment – but it doesn’t end at that, these workshops take the product of our missions and shares them with the public.

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum debriefing after a mission.

21st century technology can be attributed to the idea of mission-based learning in order to create a lively and interactive environment in the classroom. The various Smithsonian museums proved to be wonderful resources that can be utilized in our educational development. As someone who is a visual learner, being up close and personal with the paintings allowed me to better absorb information and apply it to my school and community. I have been able to liberate myself from the stereotypes many people have of Generation Y – and instead, allowed myself to embrace the blessings of this generation and use it to my advantage to create a classroom that aspires towards activism.

Looking for more information about the Smithsonian EdLab program? Click here.

July 16, 2012

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2012: Dinosaur Dig

Special thanks to Smithsonian Affiliations intern, Neema Amadala (University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada), for this guest post.

In contrast to the University of Illinois’ cool, canopied hard-court, Lisa and I stumbled back in time to a dinosaur dig. It was a 100 degree day (or 38°C for those of us metrically inclined) and perhaps an inopportune time to be outside digging for dinosaurs. In my opinion, the best part of being a Smithsonian Affiliations intern is meeting the Affiliates: seeing the dedication they have to their projects is wonderful. For this reason, I hoped to meet a celebrity of sorts, Dr. Alan Grant of Jurassic Park fame. Not the fictional character but Dr. Jack Horner on whom Sam Neill’s character in the trilogy was the partial inspiration for and paleontological advisor to. To my chagrin, Dr. Horner had left the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival but there were still dinosaurs to discover.

Visitors watching intently at the preparation of a specimen. Photo courtesy Smithsonian Affiliations.

On this particular dig, we were under the cover of the Museum of the Rockies (MOR), a Smithsonian Affiliate in Bozeman, Montana. I watched as children and adults wandered in, fascinated as always, by these prehistoric creatures who we discover anew every day. Festival goers could choose to conduct their own dinosaur dig, learn how casting a fossil works, watch a member of the Field Crew prepare a specimen for the lab or just learn more about Montana’s prehistoric past. Everyone on the dig was engaged and the wealth of experience and excitement MOR brought to the Folklife Festival was visible on the faces of all who passed through on the dig.

Lisa Lundgren, with MOR’s educational team, helped visitors learn about the history not just beneath the soil of Montana’s badlands but visible in its multicolored sedimentary strands. Explaining MOR’s own connection and contribution to fossil history Lisa and I were introduced to Maiasaura or ‘good mother lizard’: a giant dinosaur that unlike its contemporaries raised and fed their hatchlings. There were plenty of tactile and visual aids to keep us engaged and connected to the subject matter and like the children around me, I relished my time with the dinos.

Smithsonian Affiliations intern Lisa Hung with Lisa Lundgren from Affiliate, Museum of the Rockies. Photo courtesy Smithsonian Affiliations.

This time travelling experience showcased the expertise and knowledge that Affiliates can bring to the Smithsonian. Being an Affiliate can be about more than the loaning of artifacts, there can be an exchange of programs and expertise along with interaction with the community at large. Not only did the Festival provide exposure to visitors about Montana’s primordial past, perhaps embedding MOR as a potential stop on a future trip, but also enriched the learning experience that the Smithsonian seeks to provide to all.

July 13, 2012

Mission Possible: Creative Control

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern Neema Amadala (University of Calgary) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share her experience with us. Here, Neema Amadala reflects on what participating in these workshops meant to her. 

Imagine being able to interact with a painting and the museum in a completely different manner than usual. Instead of simply standing and admiring the painting, we studied and questioned its possible meaning, we created our own narrative about the painting, we didn’t let someone else interpret it for us. This type of experience can be adapted to any museum or any classroom; this approach makes field trips part of the learning experience not just an afterthought. Students unleash their creativity instead of viewing the museum as yet another excuse to leave the classroom: museums open the doors to learning and adventure.

Each EdLab workshop has a theme for the week and a mission for the day but gives creative control to each individual group allowing you to choose what topics interest you and what you would like to explore further. This format can be used in any setting and made me realize how much flexibility educators have with technology. My favorite creation of the week was the comic book our group created based on a Thomas Hart Benton painting in Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art.

“Achelous and Hercules,” 1947, Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), tempera and oil on canvas mounted on plywood, 62 7/8 x 264 1/8 in. (159.6 x 671.0 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Allied Stores Corporation, and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1985.2.

As a child, I often heard about putting myself in other people’s shoes. For a child this is a difficult thing to imagine: how do I wear the shoes of someone else? The older you get, the better you understand the meaning behind the phrase. It’s still hard to imagine until you talk to the individual, hear their struggles and the challenges they face. This workshop enabled me to understand the difficulties educators face when trying to implement new technologies in their classroom but their presence in the workshop shows their determination to find ways to continue innovating. Innovate on educators, innovate on!

For more information about the Smithsonian EdLab program, click here.

Comic the EdLab workshop participants created

July 6, 2012

EdLab: Mission Possible

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer interns Lisa Hung (University of California, Irvine) and Neema Amadala (University of Calgary) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share their experiences with us. This is the final guest post in their “Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom” series.   

EdLab: Mission Possible
By Neema Amadala

We finished our workshop week surrounded by fellow teachers absorbing technology and harnessing creativity. Like in the classroom, it’s important to leave time for reflection after a project to debrief and process the information gained.  

Day Four was all about giving the teachers a chance for this reflection. A chance to put into practice the skills and tools we explored over the week through the creation of our own mission-based learning plan. The mission-based learning plan brings together real objects with technology; it takes the classroom beyond its four walls into the community, not chaining students’ creativity to their desks but giving them the freedom to explore their own neighborhoods and spark change driven by their own passion.  

The technology that was used all week was returned and the time came for the teachers to leave behind the EdLab. The mission isn’t over for these teachers though; these missions are an ongoing process with an EdLab alumni community for teachers to continue sharing their triumphs and tribulations. Maybe the tools and technologies are not as readily available to you, but teaching in a 21st-century classroom isn’t impossible, EdLab inspires you to teach differently, to experience a different way of learning, to just explore because the mission is possible.

In July we will welcome Susan Zwerling from the International Museum of Art and Science, a Smithsonian Affiliate in McAllen, Texas, as she begins her EdLab journey. We plan on following her progress during her two-week stay so stay tuned for more EdLab blogs! For more information, contact the EdLab team at npm.mobilelearning@si.edu .

Mixing work and play at mission possible! Photo courtesy Smithsonian EdLab.

 

 

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