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affiliates help smithsonian and MIT solve mysteries

Helping the Smithsonian solve a mystery about a fictitious environmental disaster – doesn’t that sound like fun?

A preview look at the Vanished site, a curated alternate-reality game

Smithsonian scientists have teamed up with MIT’s Education Arcade to engage middle-school students to do just that, in an online alternate-reality game.   Vanished will kick off on April 4 at vanished.mit.edu.  In the course of 8 weeks, students ages 11-14 from all over the country will collect clues on- and off-line, and form a scientific community to help Smithsonian scientists test hypotheses and solve this mystery.  Thanks to the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, a range of scientists from entomologists to paleontologists will host videoconference sessions with players, mentoring them through their scientific discoveries.  (Read more in this USA Today article.)

Where will students collect the real data from their hometowns, to share with Smithsonian scientists?  Many will look to their local Affiliate for clues.  According to MIT game designer Caitlin Feeley, “a kid in Kansas could go to the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson and bring back information on space exploration, and a kid in North Carolina could go to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, walk through their incredible diorama, and bring back information on how a lost species massively affected an entire ecosystem.”  In fact, 17 Affiliate museums are partnering with the Smithsonian and MIT to offer clue-gathering opportunities for gamers.  “The Aerospace Museum of California is excited to partner with the Smithsonian and MIT in this unique educational opportunity,” says Linda Payne, the Museum’s Education Director.  “We are certain that Vanished will stimulate students’ interest in scientific exploration and problem solving.”

The game, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, hopes to capitalize on the popularity of shows such as CSI to offer a specific kind of scientific problem-solving for students.  “The kids are actually doing science,” says Elizabeth Cottrell, Smithsonian geologist and director of the Smithsonian’s global volcanism program.  “They are going to have the ‘Ah, I get it,”. moment for themselves.”

Thanks to the Smithsonian Affiliates who will help students find those “Ah hah” moments… right in their own neighborhoods.

Affiliate partners for Vanished:
Mid-America Science Museum, Hot Springs, AR
Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, Tallahassee, FL
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS
The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA
Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, NC
Aerospace Museum of California, McClellan, CA
Putnam Museum, Davenport, IA
Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA
South Florida Museum, Bradenton, FL
Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA
Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha, WI
Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
Museum of Dentistry, Baltimore, MD
South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

“Vanished” in the news:
USA Today: Interactive game ‘Vanished’ doubles as an educational tool

ArtDaily.org: Smithsonian and MIT Partner to Turn Kids into Scientific Investigators

affiliates in the news: week of May 24

Congratulations to Affiliates making news this week!

 

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NY, NY)
NYC seeks developer to build new home for National Jazz Museum in Harlem

City looking to build Jazz Museum in Harlem

Charlotte Museum of History (Charlotte, NC)
Charlotte Museum of History announces new president & CEO

History museum names new leader

Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, WY)
Buffalo Bill Museum finally gets its turn

Cody tourism looks good in 2010

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium (Dubuque, IA)
MUSEUM & AQUARIUM EXPANSION TO OPEN JUNE 26, 2010

 

Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center (Hutchinson, KS)
Hutchinson, Kansas – Salt Mines and Space Museum

New York State Museum (Albany, NY)
Researchers learn about role of bees in tropical ecosystems using radio transmitters

First radio tracking of tropical orchid bees

affiliates in the news: week of Feb 1

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

broganlogo_smMary Brogan Museum of Art and Science (Tallahassee, FL)
Lectures planned for Kinsey Collection at Brogan

csc-logo


California Science Center
(Los Angeles, CA)
AFT, NEA Offer Black History Month Teaching Tools


mhs_072logo5_08Montana Historical Society
(Helena, MT)
Historical Society exhibit honors Indian soldiers
Smithsonian exhibit on Native soldiers will tour Montana reservations


Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
(Hutchinson, KS)Click to visit the Cosmosphere
Heritage area wins state tourism grant
Cosmosphere to receive tourism grant money
Tourism projects receive funding


Click to visit MOLAAMuseum of Latin American Art
(Long Beach, CA)
MOLAA Gets $100k Getty Grant To Host Exhibit In 2011

On the Road Again

Mountain Plains Museum Association

Ahhh... Cheyenne

It’s fall conference time again. Look for Affiliations staff at these events this fall.  Let us know if you’ll be there too!

October 6: Smithsonian Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, will be at the Mountain-Plains Museum Association Conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He’s chairing a session called “Pard’ners: A Smithsonian in Your Community” which includes presenters from Affiliates Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Littleton Historical Museum, and the Durham Museum.

October 24: National Outreach Manager, Laura Hansen, will be at the Western Museum Association’s annual meeting in San Diego, California.

November 11: National Outreach Manager, Jennifer Brundage will be at the New England Museum Association’s annual conference in Nashau, New Hampshire.

See you in YOUR neighborhood!