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November 27, 2012

History Colorado Center Hosts Its First Smithsonian National Youth Summit

Special thanks for this guest post to Liz Cook, Environmental Educator at History Colorado.

We were thrilled that the History Colorado Center was to be selected as one of the nine Smithsonian Affiliate sites to participate in the National Youth Summit: Dust Bowl on October 17, 2012.  Over 150 high school and middle school students from around Colorado participated, including students from western Colorado, Denver, and the Colorado Springs’ neighborhoods that were impacted by this summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire.  Students watched the live broadcast from the National Museum of American History, which included insights from Dust Bowl survivor Cal Crabill, who grew up near Holly, on the plains of eastern Colorado.  In the second half of the Youth Summit, presenters made connections between current environmental issues in Colorado and the lessons of the Dust Bowl, including hydraulic fracturing, wildfire, climate change and water. Media partner Rocky Mountain PBS taped the presentations, which will be available online for future use by students and teachers.  The Youth Summit was a perfect opportunity for us to explore these topics, as our “Living West” exhibition (opening in 2013) will focus on how natural systems have impacted human history and how human choices have impacted the environment in Colorado, and will include stories of the Dust Bowl in southeastern Colorado, and current issues in our state.  

Schools Attending

  • Roaring Fork High School, Carbondale, CO (Garfield County Libraries)-10 students
  • Grand Valley High School, Parachute, CO (Garfield County Libraries)-10 students
  • Dora Moore School, Denver Public Schools, Denver-87 students
  • George Washington High School, Denver Public Schools-15 students
  • Coronado High School, Colorado Springs School District 11- 17 students 

Local Youth Summit Presentations

  • “Colorado’s Water Future”
    Kristin Maharg, Program Manager, Colorado Foundation for Water Education 
  • “Catastrophic Wildfires in Colorado”  
    Einar Jensen, Life Safety Educator South Metro Fire Rescue Authority
  • Hydraulic Fracturing: Folly or Fortune?
    Adrianne Kroepsch, Graduate Research Assistant, Center of the American West, and Doctoral Student, Environmental Studies, University of Colorado
  • “Snowpack in the Rocky Mountains”
    Ryan Vachon, Director at Earth Initiatives and affiliate with INSTAAR (Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado)

The National Museum of American History partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities, WETA television, and Smithsonian Affiliations to present the National Youth Summit on the Dust Bowl. More information on upcoming National Youth Summits at http://americanhistory.si.edu/nys

November 2, 2012

the Smithsonian in Miami Science Museum’s neighborhood

Special thanks to Lindsay Bartholomew, Science Curator at the Miami Science Museum, for allowing us to repost these amazing blogs.

With 175 Smithsonian Affiliates in 40 states, Panama and Puerto Rico, there is always an opportunity for people to engage with the Smithsonian in their own communities. Here’s an example of one Affiliate’s recent collaborations with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, National Museum of American History, and Smithsonian Magazine. Are you an Affiliate interested in guest blogging or seeing your collaborations posted here? Contact Elizabeth Bugbee for more information.

Smithsonian Affiliations- Opportunities Galore!
The Smithsonian is a name recognized all over the world. Internationally, if people know one museum in the US, it’s most likely the Smithsonian. But through Smithsonian Affiliations, museums all over the country can partner in efforts to share science, art, and history with everyone. The Miami Science Museum is a proud Affiliate member, and recently has taken advantage of several unique opportunities made available by the Smithsonian. Read more…

Students filled the Miami Science Museum theater for the town hall meeting to talk to local environmental experts for the National Youth Summit: Dust Bowl. Photo credit- Miami Science Museum.

The Dust Bowl – Man and Nature, Cause and Effect
The Miami Science Museum is one of only 10 museums nationwide that was selected to participate in the Smithsonian’s National Youth Summit on October 17th.  The focus of this summit was contemporary environmental issues and the legacy (as well as lessons learned) from the Dust Bowl period in the 1930s. During this time, the boom of wheat farming (sometimes called the “great plow-up”) brought on a 10 year drought, showing that human activities can cause large scale environmental effects. Students from around the country participated in the summit via video/web conferencing, and had the opportunity to view clips from Ken Burns’ recently released “The Dust Bowl” documentary. They discussed what they learned from the Dust Bowl and shared ideas on how they can be protectors of their environments.  The overarching theme of the event was to explore how to better understand the complexity of environmental issues and to learn what people can do today to avoid (or lessen) other environmental crises. Read more…

Baby’s First Museum
It’s not something normally recounted in baby albums, but as you read this story, you may start to wonder … “Why not?” You always hear about baby’s first words, first steps, first laugh – but what about baby’s first museum? Recently the Museum received a lovely email from a family who brought their 3 month old son to our Museum, on a free-admission day sponsored by Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live. They were not sure how much he would even react to the trip. But as it turns out, baby loved the Museum just as much as mommy did when she came here as a child. This is the kind of story that makes our work at the Museum all the more worthwhile…Read more…

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos
We’ve all seen the amazing images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The details in the colors and swirling patterns are not just beautiful – they also tell a story about what is happening there. Is that cloud of gas and dust a nursery for newborn stars? Are these massive bubbles of gas that have exploded from a supernova? And perhaps most importantly, who creates these images, and how? Read more…  And read even more in the YCCC blog series from Pinhead Institute, an Affiliate in Telluride, Colo., here.


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