Tag Archive for: education

affiliates, want to play with MIT?

Kids playing at the Natural History Museum's Fossil Lab

@ the Smithsonian's Fossil Lab

The educational game designers at MIT’s Education Arcade have been working with Smithsonian scientists and educators to create an online curated game for middle school students to be played over six weeks in the spring of 2011.


In the game, players will receive encoded messages from scientists in the far future.  These scientists are writing because much of the scientific record has been destroyed.  Through scientific reasoning, research and exploratory challenges at museums, online collaboration with other players, and online experiment simulations, players unravel a multilayered mystery about the possible future of our earth – a science fiction scenario that incorporates very real environmental issues and natural science.

Players will explore, hypothesize, and test in the areas of cryptography, mathematics, anthropology, astronomy, climatology, zoology, environmental science, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.


How can Affiliates play?  During several weeks, players will be encouraged to collect “clues” – many of which can come from the Affiliate network.  Affiliates are encouraged to participate at any number of levels – from minimal to fully engaged.  Here are some examples of Affiliate involvement:


  • Encourage your Museum’s after-school club to play the game or distribute information sheets to your teacher constituents to encourage their students to play.
  • Distribute a “clue” at your front desk to visitors who provide a particular password.
  • Discuss any relevant exhibits or collections you have with the game designers, so that they may possibly be included in the game itself.
  • Maintain a “drop box,” placing items (hidden clues!) in a Tupperware box on your property for gamers to find.
  • Host a dedicated treasure-hunt style challenge in conjunction with the game.

The game hopes to drive student players and their families to their local Affiliate museums, to discover the resources in their own backyards that unlock the mystery of the future.  


Interested in more information or how to sign up?  Contact Jennifer Brundage, National Outreach Manager at 202.633.5306 or brundagej@si.edu.  Game designers will also be discussing this opportunity at the Affiliations Annual Conference – hope to see you there!

grab your compass


Affiliates Plimoth Plantation and the Senator John Heinz History Center extend their reach through Smithsonian’s History Explorer and Thinkfinity!

Smithsonian’s History Explorer is a gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history.  History Explorer is designed and developed by the National Museum of American History, a partner in Verizon’s Thinkfinity.org consortium of leading national education experts. The National Museum of American History is an integral part of Verizon’s Thinkfinity.org consortium. 

Teachers need only to visit Thinkfinity.org to search free educational resources from all of the partners. Thinkfinity is a free, comprehensive digital learning platform for high-quality education content, and serves as a portal for millions of American teachers, parents, and students.  The site makes it easy for educators to enhance their classroom instruction with lesson plans, interactive activities, and other online resources.

Now, the unique resources of two Smithsonian Affiliates will be added to History Explorer and will be Smithsonian recommended resources on Thinkfinity.org.  You Are the Historian, from Plimoth Plantation, investigates the first Thanksgiving and what really happened at the 1621 harvest celebration.  The Heinz History Center’s Worlds in Motion examines the complexities of interaction among eastern American Indians, colonists and Europeans from pre-contact through colonial times.

Affiliates, do you have exemplary or unique materials on American history that you would like to share?  To nominate your resource or website, or to find out more about the process, please contact your outreach manager

climate change online conference

Ginkgo biloba  Ginkgo biloba

The Smithsonian addresses the global challenge of climate change in a range of ways, including through exhibitions and scientific research. 

From September 29 through October 1, 2009, the Smithsonian will offer an education online conference on climate change to allow teachers and the general public to participate in the Institution’s investigations, meet and question Smithsonian curators and scientists, and deepen our understanding of this critical issue.  Alongside Smithsonian scientists and curators, you’ll look at the issues surrounding climate change from the perspectives of science, history, and art. Registration is free, and now open.  

The conference is broadly organized around three topics: Evidence, Impact, and Response to climate change.  Participants will sample  some fascinating Smithsonian research–everything from an artist’s attempts to document sustainability issues, to a paleoclimatologist’s findings about prehistoric climate change and why it matters, to a discussion about how polar bears are faring in our warming world. 

Curators, researchers, and educators from the Archives of American Art, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the National Zoo will conduct twelve different live sessions, and several other units will deliver content in a “virtual exhibit hall.”  The conference features talks, interactives, and resources such as lesson plans and classroom activities, to help make this knowledge as accessible and usable as possible. (See the full agenda.)

 Affiliations is pleased to acknowledge the participation of educator Paisley Cato from the Western Center for Archeology and Paleontology, our Affiliate in Hemet, California.  Paisley worked side-by-side with Smithsonian educators throughout the summer to develop educational materials to complement the conference.

How can Affiliates be involved?  Like the virtual conference on Abraham Lincoln which took place in February (replay at smithsonianeducation.org/lincoln), Affiliates are encouraged to act as hosting sites for shared viewing and discussion with their  local area teachers, educators, and the scientific community.  Follow and comment on the climate change blog, or follow updates on Twitter (#SIClimate) and Facebook (Smithsonian Education).