Coming Up in Affiliateland in June 2021

Enjoy these summer offerings!

Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo book coverWASHINGTON
Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, will give a virtual lecture on her new book Operation Moonglow for the Museum of Flight, Seattle, 6.3. They also collaborated on a podcast, here

CALIFORNIA
The USS Hornet- Sea, Air and Space Museum in Alameda will screen Smithsonian Channel’s Battle of Midway: The True Story virtually, 6.6.

Jon Grinspan headshot

National Museum of American History Curator Jon Grinspan

NATIONWIDE
Affiliates across the country will co-host our latest Virtual Scholar Talk, What America’s Greatest Father-Daughter Political Dynasty Teaches Us About Fixing Democracy.  National Museum of American History curator Dr. Jon Grinspan will share this story from his book, The Age of Acrimony: How Americans Fought To Fix Their Democracy, 1865-1915, 6.17.

From Miami to Alameda, Indianapolis to San Antonio, Smithsonian Affiliates all over the country will disseminate thousands of copies of Inspiration Nation, a summer activity guide for K-8 students presented by the Smithsonian in collaboration with USA Today. Filled with stories from the Smithsonian, students can use the publication to step away from their screens and find inspiration everywhere around them.

Smithsonian Affiliations at 25: Chapter 3: 10 Years of Reaching for the Stars Together

Affiliations Anniversary Series: 25 Years in Your Neighborhood
Chapter 3: 10 Years of Reaching for the Stars Together

By: Tricia Edwards, Deputy Director, Smithsonian Affiliations and Natalie Wimberly, Management Support Specialist and Universe of Learning Project Manager, Smithsonian Affiliations

A young boy crouches in front of a telescope next to an adult in a bright green shirt seated next to him.

Student astrophotographer at Carolinas Aviation Museum (Charlotte, NC). Photo credit: Carolinas Aviation Museum.

“Working with Affiliations over the last 10 years has been one of the most productive collaborations for our Science Education Department,” says Mary Dussault, a STEM education program director at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, MA. Since 2012, with generous support from the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Grant program (YAG), Smithsonian Affiliations and Affiliates have collaborated with SAO to bring astronomy and astrophotography education to their communities through the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program (YCCC). Dussault adds, “Right from the get-go, we realized that the educational goals of the YAG program, the strategic partnership capacity and national network of Smithsonian Affiliations, and the scalable and accessible technology resources of SAO’s MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network were a case of the stars aligning.”

YCCC introduces communities, especially students, to the wonders of the universe. Participants can access SAO’s robotic telescopes, take images of the cosmos, and manipulate the photographs to produce their own artistic and scientific interpretations of the stars and galaxies. Along the way, they gain important technology skills and engage in—and apply—science, technology, engineering, art, and math content. As one young participant said, “I loved editing the photos. It grew my imagination and made me want to do more with it.”

A black and white image of the moon is pictured to the left of a brightly colored red, green, yellow and blue interpretation of the moon on right.

Photo captured by the MicroObservatory robotic telescope (left) alongside a student’s interpretation of the image.

Many Affiliates have participated in the program for multiple years and used YCCC to reach new audiences or forge deeper partnerships with existing collaborators. One Affiliate commented, “As a direct result of implementing the program we have already begun discussions with [our local] high school to develop a more intense astronomy program for next year.”

Since 2012, YCCC has grown to include 29 Smithsonian Affiliates and has reached more than 7,000 participants across the nation.

“Each Affiliate brings particular expertise and knowledge of their local community to adapting our SAO resources and materials, thereby creating wonderful program models that we never would have anticipated on our own,” says Erika Wright, SAO Education Specialist. For example, arts educator Annette Eschelman from the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH) was able to combine visual arts and astronomical imaging techniques to engage incarcerated youth. Starr Kelly from the Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) developed a summer camp program in which indigenous knowledge of the Wabanaki Nations informed the experience of students in the local Indian Township School.

Pieces of the Astronomy Kit rest on a table

Astronomy Kit for virtual NASA UoL 2020 Programming at Cape Fear Museum (Wilmington, NC). Photo credit: Cape Fear Museum

The successful collaboration model itself has also expanded, as SAO and Affiliations have teamed up to pursue a number of other astronomy-based education programs funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. NASA’s Universe of Learning (NASA’s UoL), for example, connects the science, technology, subject matter experts, and adventure of NASA Astrophysics with STEM concepts, education standards, and 21st century skills central to science understanding and literacy. Resulting products, programs, and professional development experiences span a spectrum of environments and applications, enabling a rich learning “ecosystem” across the traditional boundaries of education. The goal of the program is to create and disseminate education products, programs, and professional development experiences that use NASA Astrophysics science, technology, and subject matter experts to advance NASA’s Science Mission Directorate education objectives on a national scale.

In partnership with Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, 15 Smithsonian Affiliate partners, over the course of 3 years, were identified to join the national network of collaborators for this project. The majority of the Affiliates who participated were already building on the long-term partnerships and successful implementations of the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program. Growing from these past project relationships, NASA’s UoL is able to extend its reach through Affiliates and the communities they serve.

“We have great content that we’ll share in our virtual portfolio and will gladly share with any other organization that can make use of it. I also hope to do other projects with Universe of Learning when possible.” Nathan Meyer, Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS

NASA’s UoL project asks 3 main questions: How does the Universe work? How did we get here? Are we alone? The project creates and delivers science and audience-driven resources along with experiences designed to engage and immerse learners of all ages and backgrounds in exploring the universe for themselves. Its main goal is to expose astrophysics content to a wider underserved audience as well as create a Community of Practice within the Affiliate partners to document, share, and discuss ideas about how this information could translate into their own institutions.

Astronomy resources are placed on a table at the Anchorage Museum

NASA’s UoL Science of Light Program at Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, AK). Photo credit: Anchorage Museum.

“Students wanted to spend more time doing these activities and engaging with astronomy related STEM resources. For some of the students, it was their first time in a planetarium, and being able to go there twice was their favorite part of the program. Others really enjoyed learning about the MicroObservatory resource and said they would continue using it on their own.” Aaron Slonecker, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, AK

Within the 3-year program period, our Affiliate partners have created long-term NASA UoL community programs and are actively still engaged with Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to help broaden the scope and reach of NASA’s UoL future programming.

Through both YCCC and NASA’s UoL, Affiliates have helped to broaden access to SAO resources and magnify the reach of their expertise, all while engaging young learners in their communities in astronomy. Affiliates have also built their capacity. They have bolstered their astronomy knowledge and expertise, while also learning how to implement public workshops and programs for audiences of all ages. They have created a community of learners through online discussions and webinars, brainstormed programming ideas, and learned with and from one another.

Later this year, Smithsonian Affiliations and SAO will debut the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos toolkit, developed in collaboration with the Abbe Museum, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI), and Springfield Museum of Art. The toolkit will provide how-to instructions for accessing the MicroObservatory, along with successful YCCC program models implemented by Affiliates with different audiences and in different settings, enabling even more Affiliates and their communities to explore the wonders of the cosmos. We also look forward to rolling out the Observing with NASA program soon. Affiliates will have the opportunity to apply to host Observing with NASA kiosks that allow public audiences to request their own telescope images and to practice image processing skills. Stay tuned for more details on these two exciting projects!

Stay tuned next month for another chapter in our 25th Anniversary Series! Until then, catch up on stories you’ve missed:

June 2021 Kudos!

Kudos Affiliates!! June 2021

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments! Do you have kudos to share? Please send potential entries to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

FUNDING

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque, IA) and its national outreach program RiverWorks Discovery, received a combined $200,000 from three foundations to support a new RiverWorks Discovery national traveling exhibit. The Walton Family Foundation awarded $100,000, with American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation and the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation awarding $50,000 each. Grants will support the design and development of a new hands-on, educational exhibit designed to educate the public on the importance of the commerce, culture, conservation, and careers of America’s inland waterways.

The Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL) is collaborating with Empirical Brewing to help raise money for science education. Empirical Brewing will brew a series of beers in collaboration with the Adler planetarium, called “Space for Everyone.” 25% of all sales will support digital programming, including a science-comedy show called Wow Signal on Adler’s YouTube channel.

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science (Wilmington, NC) has been selected by the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) as a recipient of an IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grant for $8,600. The IF/THEN® Gender Equity Grant program offers science centers the opportunity to launch projects that increase the representation of women and gender minorities in STEM, as part of the broader efforts to advance diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced the High Desert Museum (Bend, OR) was one of 6 recipients of the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

USA Today announced their 10Best Museums of 2021. The winners included the following Affiliates in their respective categories and place:

Best Pop Culture Museum

1.Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, Virginia)

Best Science Museum

3. Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville, GA)
5. Michigan Science Center (Detroit, MI)
6. Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Denver, CO)
8. Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Dallas, TX)
9. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX)
10. Saint Louis Science Center (St. Louis, MO)

Best Art Museum

1. Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville, GA)
2. Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

Best History Museum

2. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)
5. USS Constitution Museum (Boston, MA)
6. Museum of History & Industry (Seattle, WA)
7. National WWII Museum (New Orleans, LA)

The North Carolina Museums Council honored the Greensboro History Museum (Greensboro, NC) with a 2020 Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Award for its History Happening Now initiative and the Pieces of Now exhibition. The Museum developed its History Happening Now initiative last spring to focus efforts on collecting people’s stories, experiences, and feelings about the upheavals of 2020. The initiative led to the creation of the exhibition Pieces of Now: Murals, Masks, Community Stories and Conversations, featuring more than 20 pieces of street art created as part of 2021’s Black Lives Matter protests, along with photos, objects, and video interviews with artists and organizers.

LEADERSHIP

Van Romans, president of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX), is retiring after more than 15 years leading the institution. Kippen de Alba Chu, the current chief of staff, will serve as the interim president while the museum looks for Romans’ replacement.