Tag Archive for: national postal museum

Teaching in a 21st-Century Classroom: Mission Impossible?

Special thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliations summer interns Lisa Hung (University of California, Irvine) and Neema Amadala (University of Calgary) for participating in the Smithsonian’s EdLab Teacher workshops in order to share their experiences with us. This is the first of four guest posts in their “Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom” series.   

Teaching in a 21st-Century Classroom: Mission Impossible?
By: Lisa Hung

Head tilted, eyes down, arms under the desk, occasionally glancing to see if anyone else can tell what she’s up to. Sweat drips down her brow as she struggles to fix the series of ‘autocorrects’ that can’t help but get her chuckling – the sound of the footsteps draw near and her heart is racing, she looks up in the nick of time and exhales in relief. As the teacher walks away, she picks right back up where she left off. We’ve seen it before, kids on their phones getting pulled away from the classroom. Technology in the hands of a student in a formal classroom environment has become a stigma, something that many feel are taking the students away from their learning. But why turn the other way when you can face the issue, why allow technology to take away from learning when we can use it to enhance it?

Smithsonian’s EdLab Teaching in the 21st Century workshop is aimed to allow educators to explore and launch new media practices for their classrooms providing a safe environment for the educators to come together and work in teams to develop tools and skills that can be applied in their classrooms. On Monday, I was able to partake in this experience. Kim Skerritt and Jeff Meade led the workshops and assigned a warm up by having us write what we thought a 21st-century classroom looked like. Going around you could see words like “classroom without walls”, “interactive”, and “technologic”.  Upon discussion, many of the participants raised some good points and we ultimately asked – are our kids running into school with the same excitement they have running out?

Educators sharing what they felt a 21st-century classroom looks like. Photo courtesy Smithsonian EdLab.

The mission for the week was to ask how you can solve real conflict, whether that’s in or beyond the classroom. Today’s particular mission was to use objects to inspire activism, so we were split into groups and asked to explore the Smithsonian Castle and search for that piece of artwork and apply it to our weekly theme of “conflict”. Each group member took on a role, and altogether partook in a mission to interview, research and put together a final product. In the Smithsonian Castle, there are cases that represent the 19 different Smithsonian museums and each group chose a different one to represent their cause. For example, the group I was in chose Seed Catalogues in order to represent the issue of eating healthy non-processed foods.  At the end of the day, we were able to immerse ourselves in an environment in which all the participants were able to connect with each other and we left the classroom enthusiastically knowing that we will be running in the same way on Tuesday.

Interested in more information about EdLab? Contact the EdLab team at npm.mobilelearning@si.edu

At the Smithsonian Castle finding an object to inspire activism. Photo courtesy Smithsonian EdLab.

Make the Smithsonian YOUR classroom.

Eric Stanley (left) meeting with Peter Liebhold at the National Museum of American History.

In November 2010, the Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA) opened the SITES exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 and was ecstatic with the positive response within the local community.  The museum was able to share the bracero story so well in part due to curator Eric Stanley’s participation in the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program.  Eric was able to meet with and learn from the Smithsonian curators who had planned programming for the original show, which inspired some facets of the installation at the museum, including a hands-on table at which visitors could try out some of the tools braceros used. In all, Eric met with more than 30 Smithsonian experts during his residency and said, “The time I spent with those individuals, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution.” Read Eric’s guest blogs about the exhibition and his visiting professionals experience at the Smithsonian.  

Fall 2010 visiting professional, Silvia Ros from The Wolfsonian at Florida International University (Miami) worked at the National Museum of American Indian's Cultural Resources Center.

How can you apply for the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program?

  • If you are a full-time Affiliate staff member looking to gain more experience in a certain area of interest for your museum, you’re eligible.
  • NEW THIS YEAR!- To help you coordinate your schedule with your sponsoring Affiliate museum, selected candidates have the opportunity to complete their program during any consecutive two-weeks beginning October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012.
  • Affiliate organizations are still not responsible for providing a stipend!
  • Click here for application requirements.
  • Apply online by August 1, 2011!   

Annette Shumway interned at the National Postal Museum in 2010.

And perhaps you have an intern you’d like to recommend to spend a summer at the Smithsonian working on an area of interest for your museum? In 2010, the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami) recommended Annette Shumway for the Affiliations Intern Partnership Program.  Once accepted, Annette spent the summer at the National Postal Museum cataloging and digitizing the Postmaster General collection. During the second part of her internship back at the Frost, she piloted a digital imaging project involving the permanent collections, made recommendations for turning digitizing projects into programs at the Frost, and researched elements to include in an emergency management plan for the digital collection–all skills she was able to further practice after spending the summer at the Smithsonian.  And even better…Annette was HIRED by the National Postal Museum at the end of her internship and is now a staff member continuing her work on the Postmaster General collection! Read Annette’s blog about her internship experience at the Smithsonian.  

Shawn Pirelli, an intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) researched at the NMAH Archives in 2010.

How can you recommend an intern for the 2012 Intern Partnership Program?

  • If you have an established relationship with a college or graduate student (prior/current intern or volunteer perhaps) and a specific project in mind for the intern to work on during the second half of their internship back at the Affiliate organization, direct them to apply online!
  • Interns will work in a more general area of interest while at the Smithsonian and on a more specific project back at the Affiliate organization during the second half of their program.
  • NEW! Affiliate organizations are no longer responsible for any of the intern stipend. Interns will receive a modest stipend from the Affiliations office for D.C. commuting expenses.
  • Interns can apply online! Note- Online registration for the 2012 summer program will not open in October 2011.
  • Click here for application requirements. 

Who can you contact with questions?  Elizabeth Bugbee, External Affairs and Professional Development Coordinator- (202) 633-5304, BugbeeE@si.edu.

from airmail to email

Centennial Celebration of the Wiseman Cook Flight with Smithsonian Curators

Wiseman Cooke Plane on display at the National Postal Museum.

Centennial celebrations don’t happen every day.  When the Sonoma County Museum, an Affiliate in Santa Rosa, California, set out to host an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first airmail flight, they turned to the Smithsonian curators who care for the event’s primary artifact, the plane that made that journey a century ago.  Together, they’ve organized a program that will connect online viewers and live audiences at the Sonoma County Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to celebrate this event.

The flight was piloted on February 17 and 18, 1911 by Fred Wiseman.  Wiseman took off from Petaluma, California and flew 25 miles to Santa Rosa with three letters.  Wiseman’s plane is part of the collections of the National Air and Space Museum and is currently on display at the National Postal Museum.  The event carries even more significance to the local community because the Sonoma County Museum is located in a building that was the Santa Rosa post office in 1911. 

During the program, Tom Crouch, senior curator, aeronautics, National Air and Space Museum and Nancy Pope, curator and historian at the National Postal Museum will share their knowledge about the flight.  Tom will discuss the historical context of the plane and Nancy will talk about its significance to postal history. 

Please join us on Saturday, February 19th at 2pm Eastern Standard Time at the Smithsonian’s Ustream channel, where online viewers can watch the lecture and email questions to both curators.   If you would like to organize a similar distance learning program, contact your national outreach manager.

annette shumway: summer at the smithsonian

We invited our recent Smithsonian Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our “Summer at the Smithsonian” series. Below, Annette Shumway, intern partner from the Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL) shares the story of her summer internship at the National Postal Museum.  Special thanks to Annette for this post!

As a graduate student in the Museum Studies Certificate program at Florida International University I’ve focused much of my research efforts on digitization projects being undertaken by museums and archives.  I am particularly interested in the effective administration and proper usage of current technologies for digital projects and believe that without organization much time and resources could be wasted. I was looking for an internship that would provide a meaningful, sensory experience that would enhance all of the learning that I had acquired, but couldn’t quite find one. When my Museum Studies Coordinator suggested I look into Smithsonian Affiliations Internship Program (our campus museum –The Frost Art Museum- is a Smithsonian Affiliate), I was excited because I would actually be able to execute my own project at the Frost, after I acquired hands-on skills at the Smithsonian.

I was placed with Kate Diggle, Database Administrator at the National Postal Museum (NPM). At NPM digitization of the collection is a high priority.  While at the museum I had the opportunity to work on two different projects involving digitization. 

We worked on one collection consisting of modern philatelic and postal history artifacts which are being transferred from the USPS to the National Postal Museum’s care.  We re-housed, marked, and cataloged all of the objects during the first phase. Next, we created digital records for more than 4000 records down to the item level.   Hard work, but we accomplished our task a month ahead of schedule!  With the help of curators and conservation staff, we identified the items that would be the best candidates for imaging. Some of the artifacts in the collection were larger than the imaging equipment we had in-house, so we couriered these objects to a facility that would be able to handle our imaging needs. It was fascinating to courier the objects and to have access to some of the most state-of-the-art equipment in the field of image capture.  

The second project involved the actual image capture of artifacts for an upcoming exhibit.  These images were added to the museum’s database and will be available online when the exhibit opens. This helps to preserve artifacts like letters from revolutionary war, civil war, and both world wars for future generations of researchers.  Thanks to instruction from the preservations, collections, and web team at NPM, I was able to hone the handling, technical and editing skills necessary for completing projects in digitization field.

Taking part in both of these projects has helped me understand the logistics behind coordinating loans and standards involved in collections’ imaging projects. I feel that much of the experience that I gained through this period will aid in the second portion of my internship at the Frost Art Museum. I look forward to contributing valuable knowledge to the digitization plan and efforts at the Frost.