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New Benefit: Smithsonian Voices

We want to help share your story! Smithsonian Voices is a blog on Smithsonianmag.com, the online version of Smithsonian magazine. Millions of visitors browse the content online per month and learn about science, history, art, popular culture, and innovation. The blog shares the unique voices that make up the Institution and now will include our Affiliate partners. A new blog—Smithsonian Affiliations Voices—is in development specifically for our Affiliate partners.

Smithsonian Affiliates are currently the only organizations outside of the Smithsonian invited to join the hundreds of scholars, researchers, and curators telling stories about their work. Smithsonian Voices content doesn’t have to have a Smithsonian connection—although having one is encouraged. Here, we want to provide a platform for our Affiliates and feature the incredible work they are doing every day, how they are engaging their communities, and demonstrate the importance of our Affiliate network in reaching broader and more diverse audiences.

As we finish developing the page, we invite our Affiliate partners to submit story ideas to be be featured on our page. Visit  the Smithsonian Voices blog page to get ideas and see how other Smithsonian units are telling stories.

Are you interested in sharing a story on our Smithsonian Affiliate Voices page? Contact Elizabeth Bugbee for guidelines and more information- BugbeeE@si.edu. 

National Museum of Natural History Lineage Workshop

Credit: National Museum of Natural History

Announcing an exciting post-conference opportunity for Affiliate educators on Wednesday, July 1, 2020! Immediately following the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is offering an Affiliate-exclusive day-long, hands-on professional development workshop and discussion exploring fossil-based science content and informal learning opportunities, such as “challenging conversations” and co-learning among family members. Selected participants will receive funding to offset lodging and other costs associated with participation.

This special workshop is part of a National Science Foundation-supported project called Lineage, a comprehensive educational media and outreach initiative designed to increase public understanding about the history of life on Earth and the relevance of that history to our present and future. The Lineage team is comprised of NMNH, Twin Cities Public Television, Schell Games, and the Institute for Learning Innovation.

Lineage activities, content, and materials are designed for use in informal learning spaces such as museums, libraries, and parks, as well as schools. This one-day workshop at NMNH will introduce Affiliate educators to the activities and equip them to access the content and materials for use in their own museums and communities.

Click here to apply

Credit: National Museum of Natural History

During the one-day workshop, the Project Team will share:

  • Best practices on creating and facilitating STEM-focused family learning experiences,
  • Demonstrate the Lineage project’s fossil-based activities as examples,
  • Share results of the project’s important research effort.

Lineage materials (including files to make 3D prints) will be available online for free beginning in April.

Museum educators hoping to launch or expand public programs with fossil-based collections; museum staff interested in deepening conversations with the public around evolution and adaptation, and any mid-career informal education professionals interested in developing and implementing family-based learning programs are encouraged to apply.

Apply today to extend your conference experience and expand your STEM learning toolkit! Contact Nicole Bryner at brynern@si.edu with any questions.

Apply here!

 

Credit: National Museum of Natural History

2020 Invent It Challenge

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and Cricket Media have partnered for the past nine years to bring the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge to students across the globe. The challenge is a free, STEM-focused contest open to students ages 5-18 that inspires them to solve real-world global issues through creativity and exploration. Smithsonian Affiliates are invited to share this opportunity with their visitors and incorporate it into Affiliate programming!

Here are some easy ways to promote the Challenge to your visitors or use in your own programming:
  • Use this flyer to spread the word about the 2020 Invent It Challenge to your visitors, school groups, and teachers.
  • Post this image across your social media outlets to inform your audience of the wonderful opportunity the Challenge presents for students to use their creativity and knowledge of science to make a positive impact on the world around them.
  • Introduce students to the 7-Step Invention Process using this introduction video and challenge them to think of how it can be applied to help create a solution to a wide variety of local, regional, or global issues.
  • Set up a whiteboard and have students play this interactive game from Smithsonian called “Pick Your Plate” to stimulate conversation around healthy food and how people across the globe might access it.
  • Show this inspirational video for possible ways to help solve the global issue of accessing healthy food and hold a question and answer session with students to get them thinking about what they could invent to address this issue.
Want to learn more about how the 2020 Invent It Challenge aligns with your programming, and what resources are available to you to promote it? Join our webinar on January 22nd, 2020, from 2-3 pm (EST)! Featured presenters include:
  • Sharon Klotz, Head of Invention Education at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
  • Laura Woodside, Senior Vice President of Education Products at Cricket Media, Inc.
  • Patricia Genovese, Teacher of Past Winners from California

RSVP for the webinar!

About the Invent It Challenge
Each year, the Lemelson Center and Cricket Media develop a theme related to an important global issue. By choosing themes that address significant global issues, the Invent It Challenge allows students to realize they can make an important difference in their world by applying their skills, knowledge, and creativity to come up with solutions to the challenges people around the world face daily. The 2020 theme focuses on what students can invent to help improve people’s access to healthy food. The fact that approximately 25% of the world’s 7.8 billion people struggle to access safe, nutritious food illustrates the importance and global nature of this issue.

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

To submit an entry, students have to follow the Lemelson Center’s 7-Step Invention Process and document their progress through each step in a PowerPoint or video. To help them get started, students should review the Entry Guide, which includes everything they’ll need:

  • A list of Topics and Resources to help them generate ideas,
  • an Inventor’s Notebook to help them keep track of their progress through the seven steps,
  • and a Rubric to help them self-assess.
When students are ready, they can use this PowerPoint template to document their journey, or they can create their own presentations or videos. Judges at the Lemelson Center and Cricket Media evaluate each entry according to how deeply students engage with each step and how well they document their journey. In addition to great prizes from Faber Castell, Cricket Media, and others, students can win a multi-day trip to Washington, D.C. where their inventions get permanently displayed at the Spark!Lab! Entries are due by 11:59 pm (EST) on April 10, 2020.

Questions before the webinar? Email affiliates@si.edu.

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

Wiki + Affiliates Part II: Wikimedia Commons and Image Releases

Following up on our successful call in October, we’re hosting a second webinar on Monday, December 16 at 3 pm Eastern focusing on another aspect of Wikipedia. After this webinar, we’ll announce dates for our next session covering the nuts and bolts of hosting your own edit-a-thon! Need a refresher on what we discussed in Part I? Read the Wiki+Affiliates: Help Represent the Under-Represented blog post.

Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-use images, sounds, and other media. Files from Wikimedia Commons can be used across all Wikimedia projects in all languages, including its most popular platform, Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons contains over 55 million free media files, managed and editable by global volunteers. The Smithsonian has been contributing images to Wikimedia Commons for almost a decade. You can view some of the images and media files on the Smithsonian Commons page.

During this presentation we will build on the initial Wikimedia conversation from October with the Smithsonian’s Open Knowledge Coordinator, Kelly Doyle. She will highlight the ways in which Wikimedia Commons functions in the information landscape and how GLAM organizations (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) use and interact with this platform. We will discuss the nuances of image copyright, releasing, and practical implementation guidance. A walk-through of image tagging, search functions, and tracking image metrics over time will be presented.

 

Wiki + Affiliates: Help Represent the Under-Represented!

Wikipedia is created and edited by volunteers around the world—and Affiliates can help! As one of the web’s most visited reference sites, Wikipedia serves as a starting point for many individuals looking to learn about art, history, and science. Smithsonian Affiliations and the Smithsonian’s new Open Knowledge Coordinator,* Kelly Doyle, are looking for Affiliate partners to help add under-represented groups and topics on Wikipedia. And we need your help. Affiliate collections and archives contain countless local stories and images that can help tell a fuller and more accurate history.

The first way Affiliates can become involved is through the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI). The AWHI illuminates women’s pivotal roles in building and sustaining our country and strives to be the nation’s most comprehensive undertaking to document, research, collect, display, and share the rich, complete and compelling story of women in America. With a digital-first mission and focus, the initiative uses technology to amplify a diversity of women’s voices to reach millions of people across the nation and around the world.

“Local and regional histories are an important part of the national story,” said Doyle. “We know that the collections of our Smithsonian Affiliates include notable women from their communities. Affiliates can provide this content to make sure these incredible women are represented online.”

Affiliates that contribute content will support the Smithsonian AHWI initiative and its goal to tell a more inclusive history. Each Wiki post will note the contributor’s connection as an Affiliate, and the post will be linked back to the Affiliate providing the content. We want to be clear that our Affiliates have amazing content to contribute to not only the Smithsonian initiative, but to the larger historical record of our nation’s women.

On October 10, 3:00 pm Eastern Time, we’ll host a call to introduce interested Affiliates to the Wikipedia project and talk about how Affiliates can help improve the quality and accuracy of Wikipedia entries. Together, our goal is to make sure those often overlooked in history are represented.

African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth. This clearer, historically appropriate image was sourced from the National Portrait Gallery during the first AWHI Wikipedia edit-a-thon.

What you can expect on the call:

  1. Why is the Smithsonian investing in this initiative?
  2. How can Affiliates participate in Wiki edit-a-thons?
    • Host an event
    • Provide content
  3. Next steps

Want to learn a little bit more about similar successful projects? Check these blogs out:

* So, tell me, what does the Smithsonian Open Knowledge Coordinator do?
The Open Knowledge Coordinator (OKC) for the American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI) works to bring notable American women from Smithsonian collections into digital spaces, specifically the Wikimedia projects. Wikipedia is the 5th most visited website globally, with thousands of libraries, galleries, archives, and museums contributing content for free public use. However, Wikipedia’s content has a significant gender imbalance. Only 18% of biographies on Wikipedia English are about women. The OKC, together with curators and archivists across the Smithsonian, makes our content and collections about women visible on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. This allows for greater public access to our collections and gender equity online.

Questions prior to the call? Email affiliates@si.edu.

Congrats to the new class of Affiliate Visiting Professionals!

(This is an excerpt of a longer article in the Spring 2019 edition of The Affiliate newsletter)

2018 class

The 2018 Visiting Professional class.

In October 2018, a group of 10 Affiliate colleagues from around the country convened in Washington, D.C., for a two-week, transformative experience at the Smithsonian. They were selected to participate in the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program (VPP), a unique professional development opportunity for mid-level museum staff at Affiliate organizations. With generous support from The Getty Foundation, the cohort focused on a single topic — using digital technologies to broaden access to art collections — and added a leadership and personal development component to the curriculum.

Participants were selected from Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama); Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California); Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, California); Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, California); Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, Illinois); Schingoethe Center of Aurora University (Romeoville, Illinois); Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan); American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, Missouri); The Rockwell Museum (Corning, New York); and Springfield Museum of Art (Springfeld, Ohio).

They represented various departments within their organizations and agreed that discussions about workplace challenges made a significant impact on them, especially since it’s often not the thrust of academic degrees. “The leadership piece was so important — how to build allies, how to communicate, managing change, even being a good follower,” mused Charles Woods, educator at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “My biggest takeaway was understanding that you can lead from wherever you are.”

People smiling at a table

The 2018 VPP class hard at work at the Smithsonian Affiliations office.

Each participant came to the VPP with a specific organizational objective. Aspirations were high for all participants, but the program taught the cohort how to take achievable action steps and think about iterating over time. “When I came, I had no idea what to expect,” said Erin Shapiro, curator at the Springfield Museum of Art. “But now, I think we have a high chance of success for our project. I don’t say that lightly. Everybody here recognizes that this will be beneficial. I feel fortunate to have participated. The Smithsonian Affiliations team did a fantastic job. It’s an important program.”

With the support of The Getty Foundation, Smithsonian Affiliations will host a second cohort in 2019. We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate and welcome the 2019 class from the following Affiliate organizations:

Jewel Clark, Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)

Susan Bolaños, Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, California)

Melanie Tran, California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento, California)

Melissa de Bie, History Colorado (Denver, Colorado)

Tasha Caswell, Connecticut Historical Society (Hartford, Connecticut)

Teresa Stenstrup, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Elizabeth Barrett Sullivan, Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)

Kendra Newhall, Montana Historical Society (Helena, Montana)

Nicole Markham, International Tennis Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island)

Katie Staib, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (Spokane, Washington)

Congratulations! We’re excited to meet them all and can’t wait for the collaboration to begin!