January 2, 2013

Calling All Affiliates!

Smithsonian Affiliations regularly collaborates with colleagues to engage Affiliate partners in projects throughout the Institution.  Here’s a look at a few current projects, and opportunities for the future. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about any of these! 

immigrationSmithsonian Immigration/Migration Initiative (SIMI)

  • In January 2012, eight Affiliate representatives served on the advisory committee for this project. 
  • In the summer 2012, the Affiliations office, collaborating with SIMI and central Smithsonian Education, received a grant to conduct a feasibility study of the Affiliate network.  A central goal of this initiative is to engage youth in digital, self-documentary projects about their experiences with immigration and migration.  The feasibility study is designed to identify those Affiliates who have both an interest in this topic and the youth target audience, as well as the capacity to collaborate in the development of digital products for possible exhibition in years to come.  In addition to a survey to be sent in January 2013, the feasibility study includes support for select focus groups, and a pilot program at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
  • On a parallel track, colleagues in the Smithsonian EdLab are working with teachers to design mission-based challenges that link the themes of SIMI to school curricula.  Working with Affiliate educators at the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen, Texas, to test a pilot model of the program, EdLab colleagues are interested in expanding the project to work with other Affiliates.  They will be leading a workshop on this topic at the Affiliations Annual Conference, June 10-12, 2013. 

Young Historians, Living Histories

  • This is an educational initiative to engage underserved youth in Asian Pacific American communities. Young Historians, Living Histories is funded by the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Grant program.  The program is led by the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center, in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations.  The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and Smithsonian staff will prepare comprehensive instructional programs and curriculum guides that will be used to train educators to implement the youth workshops.  Youth will learn a variety of 21st century skills, methods of community outreach, digital storytelling and more to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of Asian Pacific American history and culture while learning new technologies.  Nine Affiliate partners will be selected to participate in helping to reach the target youth audience, as well as bring together critical community partners to support the program.   

    Six Affiliates and their community partners kick off the Places of Invention project with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Photo: National Museum of American History

    Staff from six Affiliates and their community partners kick off the Places of Invention project at a day-long workshop with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Photo: National Museum of American History

Places of Invention (POI)

  • Six Affiliates are currently serving as partners in the Places of Invention project, an initiative of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.  Supported by a major grant from NSF, Places of Invention Affiliate partners are conducting extensive community research, the products of which will be shared in an interactive map in a 2015 exhibition at the National Museum of American History. 
  • The POI team has funds to train 20 more Affiliates to document their communities, and will be sharing their work at the Affiliations Annual Conference, June 10-12, 2013.  nys

National Youth Summits

  • In collaboration with the National Museum of American History, Affiliates have hosted several Youth Summits, wherein students from across the country watch a live webast program in D.C., and then continue the discussion with experts in their home communities.  The Freedom Rides National Youth Summit featured five Affiliate partners in February 2011; and the Dust Bowl National Youth Summit partnered with nine Affiliates in October 2012.
  • More National Youth Summits are being planned for the future, with Affiliate participation.  A program on Abolition is set to take placeon February 11, 2013; Latino history in America in fall 2013; and one commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 2014. 

Let’s Do History tour

  • This is a national outreach program that brings the National Museum of American History’s resources and strategies to communities nationwide.  Designed to energize and support K-12 social studies teachers, the program introduces them to exciting and effective techniques, powerful online tools, and standards-based content they can use in their classrooms.  In each targeted city, Smithsonian colleagues work with Affiliate educators to highlight local resources. 
  • In 2012, Affiliates in Alabama, Texas, South Dakota, and Tennessee took part in presenting their own educational resources.
  • In the coming years, the National Museum of American History is looking at cities in Hawaii, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Oklahoma. 

    Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

    Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos

  • Thirteen Affiliates took part in the YCCC program, a collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.  The goal of the program is to teach youth participants to control robotic telescopes over the internet.  Participants learned to take their own astronomy images of the universe. Images created have been displayed in astrophotography exhibitions featuring their unique images, captions, poems, and comparisons to images taken by NASA’s space-based observatories. The program promotes increased interest, awareness, and knowledge of astronomy content, understanding of technology and proficiency in real scientific research skills.  Participating Affliates will be offering a second round of astrophotography workshops in 2013. 

One Giant Leap

  • An initiative of the National Air and Space Museum, the pending proposal to NSF is designed to create mentoring opportunities for African American students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  Affiliate participation will include hosting videoconference sessions with scientists from NASA and the Smithsonian, and supporting the local mentoring partners.

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.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

 

 

October 15, 2012

An “Out of this World” Experience

Special thanks to Sonchia Jilek, Executive Director, The Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Telluride, Colorado, for this guest post. Part of our Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos blog series. Seriously Amazing! 

This summer, I had the opportunity to lead one of our most memorable programs, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program, thanks to a grant from the Smithsonian Youth Access fund.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

The grant funded Pinhead’s first “Astrophotography Camp” to help provide underserved middle-school youth access to the resources of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory through the MicroObservatory Telescope Network. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the first in Colorado, the Pinhead Institute was honored to receive this special grant.

I decided to host this program in our outreach area in Naturita, Colorado. Naturita is a former uranium mining community located approximately 20 miles east of the Colorado-Utah border. With the Uranium Mill closing back in the 1980s, the town now supports a community of only 600 people. Located within this small town is an excellent library that hosts the majority of events for kids and adults. The heart of this town is the Naturita Public Library, named the Best Small Library in America in 2011 by the Library Journal.

The Naturita Public Library played host for our first “Astrophotography Camp.” This camp ran three hours a day for one week in August. Twelve students attended for free, thanks to the funding from the Smithsonian. The size was only limited based on the number of available computers at the library. The students came in with little knowledge of the solar system, galaxies, or the greater universe. They left empowered and engaged by the enormity of space.

Our first day consisted of learning all about telescopes and working on vocabulary. The kids learned the difference between a planet and a nebula and learned how a telescope “sees” differently than a human eye. The curriculum for this first day of our camp was found through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophotophysics MicroObservatory website. Through online webinars with Mary Dussault and Erin Braswell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, I felt comfortable using the curriculum and leading this first part of our camp on my own.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

Over the next few days of the camp students learned to control the robotic telescopes through the online MicroObservatory to take images of galaxies, planets, nebulas, and the moon. Many of these students had never worked on computers. So, beyond learning about our universe, these students had the opportunity to learn computing skills. The images students selected from the MicroObservatory site were emailed to the students, which they manipulated using special software used by professional astronomers to create beautiful space-based art projects.

Our final day consisted of the students creating their poster projects to exhibit selected telescope images. The girls used a lot of glitter and sparkles to help display their images of the moon and various nebulas. The boys’ posters included references to sport heroes alongside their galaxies and planets.

The poster exhibition went on display at the Naturita Library and in late August. Parents joined their kids as they presented their posters and described what they learned and how they processed their images. It was a great event, reflective of this amazing community, and showcased the student’s passion for sharing what they had learned.

We work with communities surrounding Telluride in Southwestern Colorado. Pinhead aims to teach students of all ages about the wonders of science. We host a number of great programs that teach students about how science is fun, creative, and a part of their daily lives. Our outreach extends from Telluride to Ridgway, to Ouray, to Norwood, and to Naturita, reaching more than 5,000 kids each year, providing thousands of hours of science enrichment opportunities in our remote part of Colorado.

Naturita is a special community, and is one of our favorite places to host our programs. We are always looking for new programs to offer out in this rural town. The Colorful Cosmos program was the perfect fit not only for Pinhead’s capacity, but also the perfect fit for the students in Naturita. Despite our isolated location, I was able to learn everything I needed to know remotely. All of the resources provided through the Smithsonian and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics exceeded my expectations and made this camp an incredible learning experience with only a few hiccups. We are planning on extending the astrophotography camp to our local communities in the very near future.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

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