Exhibit Education (OMA)

In early summer 2016, David Davis and Kerry Magruder wrote three short, one-page reports about Galileo’s World as part of the successful application process for three awards from the Oklahoma Museum Association.  The separate reports, each reproduced here, focus on Exhibit design, technology, and educational outreach. These brief reports just scratch the surface, but maybe offer a starting point to explore more deeply in discussion during docent training events.


Education and outreach

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 have received docent-led tours of Galileo's World at the OU Libraries, not counting classes which have 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 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 Norman and south-Oklahoma City 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 oulynx.org blog to stay up-to-date with OER development and educator outreach.