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March 27, 2013

Capturing the Cosmos in College Park

Special thanks to our guest blogger, Chelsea Dorman, College Park Aviation Museum, College Park, MD for this post

Last fall, College Park Aviation Museum had the opportunity to lead two Capture the Colorful Cosmos classes using assistance from a Smithsonian Youth Access Fund grant. Our museum attracts many younger children for all of its hands-on activities, but we have been looking for ways to expand our reach to older students. I was excited to be able to use a program about astrophotography to target a new audience of middle school age students. With events like the transit of Venus and solar flares frequently making the news, learning to operate robotic telescopes to take pictures of the heavens has an easy draw. College Park sits just outside of Washington, D.C. in Prince George’s County, MD and boasts a very diverse population. The Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission runs much of the recreation in the county including 41 community centers and our museum. This made it a natural fit for us to offer the Capture the Colorful Cosmos program to our immediate community.

DJ Exhibition

We decided to hold our Capture the Colorful Cosmos programs at nearby community centers since the museum does not have a computer lab. Both Beltsville Community Center and Langley Park Community Center offered us space for an after school program that would be held once a week, for six weeks in their computer labs. Our class size was limited to 10 students by the seats available in the room, but we found that these students kept us busy throughout each class, and it would have been difficult to accommodate additional participants.

Ellie Exhibition

In our first session, students learned the basics of the MicroObservatory software, how to request images, and discussed how astronomy influences their everyday life. Throughout the course we tried to keep a balance of learning to manipulate images, learning about the universe, and a creative activity. At the end of each session students went home with a copy of the image they had created that day printed on our photo printer. By the end of the course, students were able to create and refine composite images and false color images, creating all sorts of artistic, brightly colored galaxies and moons. The Kids Capture the Universe curriculum provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was a terrific resource for finding activities and planning our program. One of our students’ favorite activities was creating astropoetry and many of them decided to include their poem in our final exhibit.

All of the students’ hard work culminated in an exhibit that was displayed at College Park Aviation Museum for three months. Each student picked two images they had created to display. During our final two classes, everyone poured through books and websites to learn about the celestial objects in their images so they could write a caption describing their work. The exhibit was debuted with an evening reception, which coincided with the opening of our Aviation Meets Art exhibit featuring local artists. It was a fantastic event, and everyone was thrilled and impressed by what the kids had created. In fact, many of the adults in attendance wanted to know when they would have their chance to create astrophotography images of their own.

The Capture the Colorful Cosmos program has been a great way for us to continue to grow our outreach. Through this program we were able to reach a nearby home-school group who had never been to our museum. The kids had a lot of enthusiasm for what they were learning, and would frequently share other astrophotography pictures and facts they had found at home. The program was a great success, and we plan on using what we have learned to host another workshop, this time at College Park Aviation Museum. In May, we will utilize the set of netbooks made available by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to host a family workshop. We hope this will allow the younger children and adults who are interested to learn about astrophotography too. Capture the Colorful Cosmos was easy to learn and implement, so we hope to continue offering it as a recurring event.

March 26, 2013

conference highlight: serving children and families on the autism spectrum

Filed under: Conference Ideas,enewsletter feature,General — Tags: , — Jennifer Brundage @ 2:00 pm

nmahSmithsonian Affiliations is pleased to be working with the Smithsonian’s Accessbility Program to offer a special workshop during the 2013 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference on the ways that museums can and are serving children on the autism spectrum.  The first part of the workshop will cover the basics of autism spectrum disorders, answering questions such as:

- what is autism and what does it look like?
- how do families with children on the autism spectrum engage with museums?
- what strategies can we use to engage and disengage a child on the autism spectrum?
- what are the best practices for teaching children on the autism spectrum?
- what techniques can be used to solicit necessary information from school groups and families regarding a child’s needs?

Expert speakers include Roger Ideishi, Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; Beth Ziebarth, Director of the Smithsonian Accessibility Program; and Jahmar Hannans, Manager of Guest Programs at Georgia Aquarium, an Affiliate.  

In the second part of the workshop, participants will engage in hands-on activities in Smithsonian galleries, designed to address the needs of children on the autism spectrum and their families.  We will share a series of pre-visit materials, cart activities, and best practices that can be adapted by any museum.  

The workshop will draw on the experiences of all participants, combined with the information provided by other professionals in the field, to equip everyone with necessary tools to provide the highest quality of programming for  visitors.   Hope you can join us!

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, 202.633.5304, for more information. Click here for 2013 Conference hotel information, agenda and registration.

 

Affiliates in the news: March-April 2013

Each month we’re highlighting Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines. Congrats to these Affiliates making news this month! If you have a clipping you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

(Michael Johnson/Daily News)

(Michael Johnson/Daily News)

New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo, N.M.)
Apollo Capsule Lands at New Mexico Space Museum
Space history museum will become Smithsonian affiliate
New Mexico Museum of Space History First State Museum to Obtain Smithsonian Affiliation
Governor Proclaims “New Mexico Museum of Space History Day”
NMMSH now a Smithsonian affiliate; gets Apollo boilerplate 1207 

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Let’s Learn From the Past: Apollo 8 mission 

History Colorado (Denver, Colo.)
Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Coming to Denver
History Colorado Center offers rare glimpse of Thomas Jefferson’s Bible
Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Coming to Denver’s History Colorado Center 

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Film fans gather at Palm Springs annual Native FilmFest 

Littleton Museum (Littleton, Colo.)
`Ramp It Up’ offers glimpse of culture 

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw, Georgia) and the National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Southern Museum Executive Director to Speak at National Civil War Museum

Senior paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis, left, and political history curator Harry Rubenstein of the Smithonian's National Museum of American History discuss Thomas Jefferson's Bible at History Colorado Center on Wednesday. (Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Senior paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis, left, and political history curator Harry Rubenstein of the Smithonian’s National Museum of American History discuss Thomas Jefferson’s Bible at History Colorado Center on Wednesday. (Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

New! PAL Talks- distance learning for Affiliates

Smithsonian Affiliations introduces PAL Talks (Partnering with Affiliates for Learning)!  Refresh your knowledge or learn something new about being an Affiliate and collaborating with the Smithsonian in webinars and video chats about membership, branding, artifact loans and more. 

Mobile App Clinic meeting

Our first Vidyo conference in February 2013 was a huge success!

Our successful pilot using Vidyo at the Mobile App Clinic last month showed us that Affiliates are eager to learn more about collaboration opportunities at the Smithsonian. We also thought Affiliates would like more opportunities to learn about each benefit of their affiliation in further detail.  

So we’re kicking things off with a Vidyo webinar about the Smithsonian Affiliations Membership Program. External Affairs Manager, Christina DiMeglio Lopez will lead the chat and explain why everyone should be taking advantage of “two memberships in one.”  

When: Wednesday, April 24, 3:00-4:00 p.m. (EST)
How: Vidyo video webinar

Setup: Download and test the Vidyo software here
RSVP: bugbeee@si.edu

Questions? Contact Christina DiMeglio Lopez or Elizabeth Bugbee for more information about this new digital learning opportunity.

March 25, 2013

coming up in affiliateland in April 2013

 

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

PUERTO RICO
Educators from the National Postal Museum lead workshops on designing educational materials for exhibitions and for different audiences at the Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos in Gurabo, 4.5-6.

FLORIDA
The Naples Museum of Art opens the Multiplicity exhibition, featuring 83 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collections (including the one to the right!) in Naples, 4.6.

MARYLAND
Rebecca Trautmann, National Museum of the American Indian curator, will serve as a juror for the upcoming Elements in Balance exhibition at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomon, 4.8.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will be loaning objects to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Renwick Gallery for the Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color exhibition, opening in Washington, D.C. on 4.12.

CALIFORNIA
Staff from the National Museum of Natural History will present workshops and lectures sponsored by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum as part of Smithsonian Week in Riverside, 4.23-25.

TEXAS
The City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department will announce their affiliation in Austin, 4.24.

 

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