OU Lynx Blog

Lynx Open Ed at the Domains 2017 conference

by Brent Purkaple and Kerry Magruder

We are thrilled to be participating yesterday and today in "Domains 2017: Indie EdTech and Other Curiosities," a conference sponsored by OU's Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and Reclaim Hosting, the moving force behind "A Domain of One's Own" (Conference website).  In our proposal for an exhibition booth, we indulged in some word play with "domain" and "reclaim":

The History of Science Collections contains nearly 100,000 volumes from every field and subject area of science, technology and medicine ranging from the time of printing in the fifteenth century to current publications. Initially a physical domain reserved for elite scholars, OU Libraries has recently transferred the books into the public domain. Reclaiming the identity of a public research library, visitors from all over the world daily experience the History of Science Collections, either physically or digitally. 

Come experience the transformation of OU Libraries with Galileo’s World, and take part in the democratization of knowledge. Participants will be invited to actively answer four questions as they participate in the booth. 1) What is Galileo’s World? 2) How are those books released into the digital domain? 3) In what ways is this transforming the public domain? 4) How can I add Galileo’s World to my own domain?

Here's an outline of how we organized our exhibition booth:

  1. What is Galileo's World?
    1. Exhibit website
    2. Exhibit guide
  2. How is Galileo's World released into the public domain?
    1. Every book on display is digitized cover to cover.
    2. All images released in high resolution in the public domain.
  3. How is Galileo's World transforming the public domain?
    1. For educators:  Lynx Open Ed (lynx-open-ed.org)
    2. For scholars:  Edition Open Sources (EOS)
    3. Announcing:  The Sky Tonight: A Cultural Archaeology of the Stars (skytonight.org)
  4. How can you add Galileo's World to your own domain?

And here's how it looked (click any image to enlarge):

The lynx and the starry sphere
The lynx and the starry sphere

Exhibit Guide and oulynx.org website
For educators:  Exhibit Guide and lynx-open-ed.org website

Open Educational Resources (oulynx.org)
Open Educational Resources (lynx-open-ed.org)

Announcing The Sky Tonight:  A Cultural Archaeology of the Stars
Announcing The Sky Tonight: A Cultural Archaeology of the Stars

Edition Open Sources
For scholars:  Edition Open Sources

Idea board
Idea board: Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions and conversations!

What is Galileo's World?
What is Galileo's World? A participatory, collaborative conversation.

Exhibit booth
Exhibit booth




OU Lynx Academy (May-June 2017)

Lynx Academy

During May and June we partnered with the OKC Metropolitan Library for the maiden voyage of the Lynx Open Ed Academy, our off-site K-12 education program. Over the course of about a month we put on 3 different programs at the following libraries:

Edmond Library

Capitol Hill Library (though the program was off-site at Shidler Elementary library)

Belle Isle Library

During the program we showed the kids the facsimile of Galileo’s Starry Messenger 

GW Facsimile

Followed by an activity simulating the basic idea of a telescope using concave and convex lenses.

GW Lenses

We then learned about the constellations and the night sky by using a Celestial Globe, Constellation Cards, as well as a Planisphere.

Lynx Academy Activities

All of the content came from “Galileo’s World” with the majority coming from the exhibit “Sky at Night” (currently on display at the History of Science Collections).

We could not have asked for a better inaugural run for the Lynx Open Ed Academy (the first of many future programs). We want to thank the librarians we worked with - Brittney Logan (Edmond), Gloria Melchor (Capitol Hill), and Katherine Hickey (Belle Isle) - as well as the Children’s Services Coordinator for all OKC libraries, Kristin Williamson, for helping us connect with the various branch libraries.

We plan to offer future programs similar to this one, and look forward to working with our developing docent program to provide more opportunities. You can learn more about the docent program here.

EPSCoR Women and Science event

OU Lynx at EPSCoR
Lynx Open Ed at EPSCoR

Lynx Open Ed was privileged to participate for the third year in a row in the annual Women and Science conference for K12 students and teachers across the state.  Held last Tuesday in Tulsa, the conference is sponsored by EPSCoR to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields (cf. the conference page).

Brent and Kerry set up two booths with hands-on activities exploring STEM in the world of Galileo.  We were told to expect about 900 middle-school and high-school female students, along with their teachers, to drop by our booths during the all-day event.  What fun!

Color the ConstellationsColor the Constellations
Color the Constellations

The Urania's Mirror constellation cards, published in 1825, were "designed by a lady."  We have previously featured these as OERs and at a Lynx Coloring Party. 

We also featured a coloring page for Coma Berenices, the Hair of Bernice, from Johann Bode (1801). Coma Berenices represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267-221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Berenice, known for her horses as well as her beautiful hair, once rode to the king’s defense and rallied the army against overwhelming odds. In this heroic story, attributed by ancient writers to the actual historical figure, we invited visitors to our booth to see anticipations of another warrior-general known for her beautiful hair (see picture, above).  An OER for Coma Berenices is in preparation and will be published shortly.  Search OERs for published activities by setting the series to "Constellations."


Constellation Tubes Constellation Tubes Constellation Tubes
Constellation Tubes

Constellation figures, as found on coloring pages, make the constellations memorable but do not help one to find them in the night-time sky.  Even the Urania's Mirror cards include too many stars to guide one in identifying the constellations.  One solution is to make Constellation Tubes, as shown above.  Our templates (to be published here soon) are based on the Urania's Mirror figures, but indicate only a few stars that make a simple star pattern that is easily recognized in the sky.  For example, in looking through the Constellation Tube it's easy to see a Big Dipper, but not a Big Bear.  With a constellation tube, one can learn to identify Orion the Hunter by the simple pattern of three stars in his belt; or Sagittarius the Archer by the simple pattern of a teapot.  Such simple star patterns can be punched in our template pages and affixed to poster-mailing tubes (as shown above), or on aluminum foil attached to paper-towel tubes (if printed at half size). This OER is under preparation.


Star Clock
Star Clock

We brought a number of nocturnal star dials, replicas of an original star clock held in the Museo Galileo in Florence. Once students learn to identify the Big and Little Dippers, they are ready to try using a Star Clock to tell time at night.  The basic idea is that the Big Dipper revolves around the North Star like the hand of a clock, completing one complete revolution counter-clockwise every 24 hours.  A simplified make-it-yourself star clock, with an accompanying OER, is in preparation.


Galileo's telescope optical activity
Galileo's telescope optical activity

One of our most engaging activities over the last year in exhibit-related instruction has been the construction of a "telescope" using two lenses of the same types as those employed by Galileo.  This activity results in many "a ha!" exclamations as the lenses come into position to reveal the magnifying effect.  Again, an OER is in preparation and will be published here soon.


Women and Science from Galileo's World
Women and Science from Galileo's World

Many of our existing Learning Leaflets tell some remarkable stories about women and science in Galileo's World.  Download them by searching the OER section here (under the "Learn" menu):  Woman and Science Learning Leaflets.  We also featured an activity, under preparation, related to the Ada Lovelace Learning Leaflet.


OU Academy of the Lynx
Academy of the Lynx

For both of us, the opportunity to interact with so many students was exciting and joyous. The experience prompted many ideas for further development, and we hope inspired some of the students with sparks of creativity that will continue to light the fires of ongoing learning.

Click any photo for a larger view.

by Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple

Scientific Revolution - Chat with the Curators Walking Tour

Schusterman Library, OU Tulsa campus
Schusterman Library, OU-Tulsa

On September 8, on the 5th floor of Bizzell Memorial Library in Norman, about 30 guests participated in a Walking Tour for the OU Tulsa reprise exhibit, "The Scientific Revolution." As advertised at meetup.com:

In this "Chat with the Curators" event, come explore a reprise of The Scientific Revolution exhibit, which was originally on display at the Schusterman Library on the OU-Tulsa campus as part of last year's Galileo's World exhibition.  In this walking tour, Kerry Magruder (Curator of Galileo's World) and Stewart Brower (Director, Schusterman Library) will discuss The Scientific Revolution, both the books now on display again for a two-month rotation, as well as the collaboration between the two campuses that made possible the original exhibit in Tulsa.

During the walk-through, we touched base on each book displayed, both for its own sake and why it was sent to Tulsa.  Everyone gained a new appreciation for the Schusterman and its mission from the discussion of how the exhibit fit in with the Schusterman and its setting in the University and in the Tulsa community.  

The evening featured a back-and-forth dialogue between participants and those involved in curating and producing the exhibit:  Stewart Brower and Katie Prentice (both from the Schusterman Library), David Davis (Head of Exhibits, OU Libraries), James Burnes, Brent Purkaple, Stu Ryan and JoAnn Palmeri from OU Libraries. JoAnn spoke on Shakespeare events, Brent described educational outreach, Stu discussed some of the instruments, and David talked about the instrument replicas from the Museo Galileo.  

To illustrate exhibit activity in Tulsa, numerous images of events held at the Schusterman were projected onto the big screen in the Exhibit Hall, including:

Schusterman Library, OU Tulsa campus:  Opening Reception Schusterman Library, OU Tulsa campus:  Opening Reception, telescopes
Opening Reception, Fall 2015

The Schusterman Library welcomed more than 360 people for their opening reception a year ago. With help from local amateur astronomers and educators, the opening event was a family-friendly activity fair, featuring telescopic viewing, storytelling for kids, and hands-on activities for kids and for the visually impaired.

Schusterman Library, OU Tulsa campus: Galileo event Schusterman Library, OU Tulsa campus: Galileo event
Galileo in Tulsa (Paul Austin)

A well-attended event last February featured an appearance by Galileo himself!  See him appearing in the first picture, above, left, abruptly interrupting the curator from behind and approaching the stairs.  He then came down the stairs to interrogate the curator about the Galileo's World exhibit.  Galileo was artfully played by Paul Austin, an OU actor, writer and poet.  Although we haven't yet mentioned him, Paul also came to the walk through, and spoke to us in his Tuscan accent.  After we played a short clip of his appearance as Galileo at the Tulsa event, Paul then said a few words about the upcoming production of Galileo’s Torch, a play by James Reston about Galileo’s trial that will have its international debut here at OU in February.  In that play, Paul will again play the part of Galileo. 

About 30 people participated.  For many, perhaps most, it was their first Galileo’s World event.  Many were from OKC, and off-campus folks outnumbered people from the university.  It was a pleasant diverse mixture of ages, both young and old.

For more info on future events like this one, see the Walking Tours page under "Meetups" in the "Participate" menu. For more info on the Reprise exhibit, see the pages in the "Galileo's World" menu.  For more info on "The Scientific Revolution" exhibit, see the Gallery at a Glance page in the "Galileo's World" menu.

by Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple

Saturday Brown-Bag for educators and docents


We're really excited about our first Brown-Bag this Saturday, as it signals a new focus for us on collaboration with educators and prospective docents.

This roughly monthly Saturday brown-bag series is intended for both educators and prospective docents.  The brown-bags will feature the opportunity to participate in activities related to the exhibit. Feedback from educators will help us refine them for use in their classroom situations; docents will gain confidence in using them on guided tours.  Here's more about what to expect, from our group at meetup.com:


Also, please share this message with any educators or prospective docents who might wish to learn more about the OU Lynx and our educational outreach.

Would you be willing to help us broadcast a call for docents?  If you know any friends who have an enthusiasm for learning and sharing with others who might be interested in serving as a docent for Galileo’s World, would you let them know we’re interested in talking with them? Just send them a link to this blog post in an email, or send them to lynx-open-ed.org, or have them call us at 405/325-2760.  In addition, I’m more than willing to come to any civic or church group to explain Galileo’s World and to answer questions about the docent program.

Here’s a page on this Lynx Open Ed site about docents, with links to what docents do and how to become one: docents

As soon as we have half-a-dozen or so prospective docents, we’ll organize a docent training program:  training

Meanwhile, we encourage any prospective docent or educator to register as a member on the OU Lynx website: members

Thanks so much, and I hope to see you again soon.



Kerry V. Magruder 
Curator, History of Science Collections 
The John H. and Drusa B. Cable Chair 
Associate Professor of the History of Science 
University of Oklahoma Libraries 
401 W. Brooks, BL 521 
Norman, OK  73019

Last chance to see Museo Galileo instruments

A "chat with the curators" walking tour for "The Scientific Revolution," the first rotating display of the Galileo's World Reprise exhibit, will take place Thursday Sept 8, 7:00-8:30 pm, Bizzell Library, 5th floor.  More info at meetup.com.

This event will be the final opportunity to see the Museo Galileo instrument replicas before they are returned to Florence!  We thank the Museo Galileo for partnering with us on the Galileo's World exhibit.  This partnership included displaying 5 instrument replicas:  Galileo's telescope, microscope, thermoscope, and engineering compass, as well a 16th century polyhedral sundial.  These replicas, displayed in 5 different locations last year, will be removed from the Exhibit Reprise after this event to be packaged and shipped back to the Museo Galileo.

Stewart Brower, Director of the Schusterman Library in Tulsa, will join us for this event!  He and I will dialogue during the walking tour. We will share a video clip of Galileo himself appearing at a Schusterman event, interrupting my walking tour there last February!

Two new "featured OERs" on the Lynx Open Ed site relate to books in the Scientific Revolution rotating display!  See the home page, top center.  Both of these OERs feature books from the Women and Science top ten tour. Both were on display in the Tulsa exhibit at the Schusterman Library. Both are being digitized in their entirety (as are all of the 350 books that were displayed).

Coloring Party update

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Constellation Coloring Party last Saturday! (out of the more than 50 people who came to the Collections that day).  Brent tweeted some pictures here: @oulynx.  Particular thanks go to those who came from beyond the central metro area, from as far away as Durant, Woodward, and Lawton!  That took special effort!

The coloring began right at 9 a.m. and continued right up through our closing time at 1 p.m.  Amber kicked off the starry night sharing with a poem by Elizabeth McFarland entitled "Constellations."  Brian shared a Cherokee constellation story.  Someone recited Tennyson:  "Many a night I saw the Pleiades rising through the mellow shade, glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid."  Rachel shared a beautiful poem she wrote incorporating the astronomy of Middle Earth.  Hannah read "The Star Splitter," by Robert Frost.  Jessica read a poem about "you have constellations lining the cathedral walls of your chest, a moon for a heart and the sunlight pouring through your skin" by Tyler Kent White.  Melissa shared a Story Bots video about the stars that she uses in her classes.  Kerry shared skylore about the constellation "Princess Leia's Buns" (a.k.a. Coma Berenices, beautifully illustrated in the Bode atlas).  Candace read the illustrated story Follow the Drinking Gourd, about navigation by the Big Dipper in the days of the Underground Railroad.  And Katherine brought starry night blueberry muffins for all to enjoy!

We'll plan to hold coloring parties with new constellation coloring pages on about a quarterly basis.  Most of Saturday we were at capacity, so in the future we may need to split into two rooms, moving back and forth as needed between the Tea House and the Harlow Room.  We'll hold  coloring parties for adults (particularly educators and volunteers), distinct from family days that will be devoted to coloring and other activities for kids.  And we'll adopt a more structured program, as indicated in the now-revised description of coloring party events (look under "meetups" under the "Participate" menu on this site).  Send us other suggestions!

Many thanks again to all of you who came!  We look forward to seeing you again. Reminder: The constellation coloring pages may be downloaded as pdfs from the "OERs" section here at oulynx.org.  The event featured coloring pages adapted from Bode's star atlas, which is on display in The Sky at Night exhibit, now open.  Download a pdf of Bode's original plates here; cf. constellation activities.  

Join the Galileo's World group at meetup.com to be notified of future events.

Sincerely, Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple

The Sky at Night gallery

Brown-Bag lunch: Art, Music and Astronomy

An open letter to all educators...  We're looking forward to some Saturday brown-bag lunches where we’ll practice some of our learning activities in a hands-on way in which everyone can participate:


This brown-bag series should be a lot of fun as well as practical and informative.  It’s the ideal way for educators to experience the Galileo’s World exhibit.  The fall schedule is here:

Would you mind sharing this event with any educators you think might be interested?  Thanks for helping us spread the word!

We are continuing to work on many educational resources related to Galileo’s World and are looking to collaborate with educators through the “OU Academy of the Lynx”: 
Our events are publicized at meetup.com (thanks for joining our group there!).  

Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple


Duochord Shot


Education and outreach award

OU Libraries has been honored with an Exhibition Outreach award from the Oklahoma Museums Association (news release).

With the launch of the Galileo's World exhibit, the OU History of Science Collections initiated an educational outreach organization, the "OU Academy of the Lynx," to work collaboratively with educators in exhibit-based learning.

Through the "OU Lynx," the History of Science curator and his graduate assistants have begun to work with educators in the Norman area, and across the state and in Texas, attending educator conferences and workshops and hosting class visits. Approximately 30 K12 classes and 50 undergraduate classes last year received docent-led tours of Galileo's World at the OU Libraries, not counting classes which toured the Sam Noble and Fred Jones museums and other Galileo's World locations.

Free Open Educational Resources (OER's) being produced for Galileo's World are available in the main Exhibit Hall and are posted online at the university repository, ShareOK.org (search for "OU Lynx"). They are being created in various topical series, and linked to the Galileo's World exhibit by gallery and subject. Series titles include: Iconic Images; Instruments and Experiments; Starting Points for discussion; Primary Source excerpts; 2-minute stories; Stand-up activities; Constellations; and Women in Science. Many of these are based on content available to educators through the iPad Exhibit Guide, a 1,000 page ebook with more than 6,000 images, available as a free download from the iBook Store, which supplements the content available from the Exhibit Website (galileo.ou.edu).

OER formats include “Card sets” and “Learning Leaflets.” An example of the card set format is a set of constellation cards called "Urania's Mirror." Each of the more than 20 Learning Leaflets created so far consists of a two-page pdf to print front-and-back on a single sheet of paper. Resembling the popular "Lithograph" format used by NASA in their educational outreach, Galileo's World Learning Leaflets contain abbreviated text juxtaposed with intriguing images to provoke reflection and discussion. For example, in the case of the most influential star atlas of the 17th century, the person responsible for much of the content and solely for its publication was a woman, Elisabeth Hevelius. Other Learning Leaflets include: Anatomy of a Book; Boldly explore; a Duochord activity (astronomy and music); a Relativity of Motion cartoon; Maria Cunitz; and Johann Shreck, Galileo's friend in China. Two other formats are English translations of primary sources, such as the Apiarium, one of the rarest documents in the history of science, and a book discussion guide.

Each of these OERs are “small pieces loosely joined,” designed to be useful in a variety of teaching situations and adaptable to support lessons in multiple subject areas and age levels. They are not lesson plans in themselves, but the raw materials we use in working with educators which may be customized for any particular setting. They are distributed without copyright, so that educators and others may adapt them to their own purposes (under a Creative Commons license, cc-by-nc).

In a new collaboration with the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art during the spring 2016 semester, the Museum educator and the Libraries' Galileo's World educator teamed up to take several activities involving art and astronomy to more than 600 students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade public school classrooms in the south-Norman area. Schools were selected with a preference toward those least likely to be able to arrange field trips to visit the physical exhibit.

Educators and others may follow the OU Lynx website to stay up-to-date with OER development and educator outreach.

An Open Letter to Educators

Dear colleagues in education, we are writing to invite you to be involved in Galileo’s World over the next two years by bringing students through an activity-based tour of the Galileo’s World exhibition at the OU Library, or by giving us feedback on the educational resources we are creating based on the exhibit materials.  Prominent subject areas include astronomy, physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering and the life sciences, and others, and we emphasize the connections between them, through cross-cutting concepts that connect science with the fine arts, music, literature and other humanities.

We’d be glad to meet with educators sometime this summer or early fall to offer a preview of the books and instruments on display, the related activities, and the educational resources we have been developing.  There are absolutely no fees involved for you or your students to visit the exhibit or to use the educational resources.  Our days and hours are flexible, worked out on a case-by-case basis.  We’re also looking for adults willing to train to help us establish a docent program, so if you know of any folks willing to volunteer with solid experience in education and/or science, please invite them to get in touch with us as well.

As you may already know, the Galileo’s World exhibition launched a year ago to celebrate OU’s 125th anniversary, and featured more than 350 rare books displayed in 7 different locations, organized into more than 20 galleries, many of which emphasized astronomy.  You can scan an overview of the exhibit on the Galleries at a Glance pages.  Or dive in to the exhibit website here:
Or follow our educational efforts here:

The programs for Galileo’s World are now over, but last year they included many science and astronomy-related events — from skywatches led by the Lunar Sooners, to lectures by various scientists and historians of science, including several JPL scientists, the director of the Museo Galileo in Florence, and the Director of the Vatican Observatory. As the other locations close and the books from all the locations come back to our vaults, we have decided to go ahead with a 2-year reprise of the exhibition in the library.  So this reprise exhibit is what we would be able to show your students this coming year.

With every class tour, we integrate a few 2-minute activities that relate the "world of the books" to the "world of the students,” so before any tour we would discuss which activities would be most appropriate for your students.  For example, since the reprise exhibit will include all the greatest star atlases, for an astronomy or general science class we might focus on constellations or the tools of observational astronomy (using a class set of celestial globes, armillary spheres, or astrolabes, for example).  For a physics class, we might replicate Galileo’s experiments on falling bodies using our functional reconstruction of his inclined plane.

Peruse our educational resources to see examples of what we have created.

As mentioned above, Brent Purkaple is coordinating our educational engagement.  Brent is a former middle school teacher and now a PhD student in the History of Science program here at OU.  Along with the Educator for the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, Brent took some of our exhibit-based activities in astronomy to over 600 students in area public 3rd, 4th and 5th grades last semester.  We expect to continue that program this coming year.

So let us know if you are interested in one or more tours this coming school year, and also in getting together sometime for a personal preview. Also, feel free to share this post with any other science educators in the area who might be interested in meeting with us or bringing their students for a tour.

Kerry Magruder, Curator
Brent Purkaple, Education Coordinator

History of Science Collections
University of Oklahoma Libraries