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Smithsonian Virtual Museum

What it is: I learn about great websites for the classroom from a variety of sources, I heard about the Smithsonian Virtual Museum from my dad.  This is the most amazing virtual look at a museum I have seen.  Students can take a self guided tour through the whole museum.  They can navigate room by room using their mouse to “walk” through the museum, or  navigate by clicking on the room or exhibit they would like to visit on the museum map.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hotspots where students can get close to an object or exhibit panel.  This is a truly amazing way for students to learn about natural history.  Students can explore the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils and plants, mammals, African cultures, ice age, western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, plants, bones, geology, gems, minerals, and the hope diamond.  As students explore the museum, the map will show which exhibits have been visited and which have yet to be visited.  I am completely amazed by this site and could spend hours going through the exhibits myself, students will love it!  THIS is what virtual field trips should be! How to integrate Smithsonian Virtual Museum into the classroom: Not all schools have the luxury or the funds to take a field trip to the museum.  Not all cities have great natural history museums like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip.  The museum can be viewed full screen which would be outstanding for an interactive whiteboard or projector.  The museum and exhibits will be life size for students to explore.  Allow students to guide the tour using the map and navigation tools.  As you “walk” from exhibit to exhibit take the time to stop and discuss what students are seeing and how it relates to what they are learning in class.  Students can also explore the Smithsonian individually on student computers. It would be a neat assignment for a group of students to study the different exhibits in the museum.  The groups could explore and research the exhibit and then give classmates a ‘tour’ of their exhibit acting as exhibit guide with an interactive whiteboard or projector. This is an incredible FREE resource that every classroom should use.  Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, this site is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for the field trip before hand by visiting the Smithsonian Virtual Museum or follow a field trip with the site.  Compare and contrast your local natural history museum with the Smithsonian. Tips: Make sure that you have all the appropriate plugins required for this site before using with students. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Smithsonian Virtual Museum in your classroom.

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We Choose the Moon

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 18-02-2011

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What it is: This site has been around for a few years, I am constantly using it with students and assumed (wrongly) that I had shared it on iLearn Technology.  I think sometimes I use a site so often that I think that it is common knowledge or that I have already posted about it.  I’m redeeming myself today and sharing the truly INCREDIBLE site, We Choose the Moon.  The site drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in the Apollo 11 launch and mission.  Time travel might not exist yet, but I’m telling you, this site is the next best thing.  Students actually hear all of the chatter from Mission Control, control the launch, view all 11 stages of the mission, read mission transmission, and follow the mission  in “real-time”.  I cannot say enough about how truly awesome this experience is for students.  At each stage, students can explore more in-depth by looking through actual pictures from the mission, videos (including JFK’s We Choose the Moon speech), and a “map” of the stages Apollo 11 took to get to the moon.  I wasn’t alive to witness this piece of history first hand, but I can tell you that this interactive gives me goosebumps, makes me appreciate the giant leap that our country took, and makes me swell with pride. Not something a textbook can deliver.

How to integrate We Choose the Moon into the classroom: We Choose the Moon plops students right in the middle of the action.  Students can experience this solo in a one-to-one computer lab setting where each has access to their own computer.  Students can explore at their own pace and “rabbit trail” for more information as needed.  My favorite use of this site is as a whole class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  The site has such a sense of nostalgia and it gives the opportunity to remember how the nation stopped and focused on the monumental moment in time.  Children everywhere were riveted to their TV sets watching men being launched into space to travel to the moon. Students born after the era of the space race have a hard time recognizing just what an event this was.  Viewing the site as a class gives students the opportunity to discuss the fashion, technology, and viewpoints of the day.  It gives students the opportunity to “witness” history first hand as if they have traveled back in time.  Take time to look through the photos, watch the videos, and reflect with students.  Turn the interactive into a creative writing opportunity where students choose a view-point (of JFK, a child, an astronaut, someone in mission control, etc.) and write about their reflections and thoughts as they witness and are a part of this history.

Don’t be afraid to let your students “rabbit trail”, click here to see where students I worked with took the learning.

If you have students who are still crazy for more “moon” experience, check out Google Moon and NASA’s Moon virtual tour.  I cannot get over how amazing technology is!  Do you ever just stop and marvel at what we have at our finger tips? Wow.

Tips: Do you have parents or teachers who fail to see the brilliance of technology in the classroom?  I defy any parent or educator to experience a site like this and not have their minds changed.  This is one of those sites that upon stumbling on, I immediately sent to my dad.  He LOVED it.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using We Choose the Moon in your classroom

Comments (6)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ktenkely, CT. CT said: We Choose the Moon.. http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=3671 [...]

Oh yeah I love that site! It’s a great example of using the potential of the web to engage students. Thanks for sharing it!!

Isn’t it? So fantastic!

I have never before seen this site. I’m so glad you posted about it.

I’m glad I did too Jacqui, hope you can use it with students!

[...] 1. We Choose the Moon- An interactive that drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in, the Apollo 11 launch and mission. [...]

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