The Smithsonian Learning Lab: Free Digital Museum Resources for Your Classroom

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By Stephanie Stenberg, Director, Internet2 Community Anchor Program

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a great way to discover and use digital museum resources in your classroom. The Learning Lab was launched three years ago to help connect educators with the Smithsonian’s vast collection. The main audiences for the Learning Lab are teachers, students, librarians, and curriculum specialists. Today, the Learning Lab hosts more than 4 million pictures, videos, online books, blog posts, and more.

The Learning Lab lets teachers build their own customized lesson plan, or “collection.” There are now more than 30,000 collections, 6,000 of which are public. Teachers can find a collection to use or adapt to their classroom or publish their own collection to share with their peers. “For me, what’s most inspiring is the ability to see those teacher-created collections and adapt them so that they fit my own students’ needs and interests,” says Kate Harris, a high school history teacher from Pittsburgh, Pa.

In the collection “The Wright Stuff: Flying the Wright Flyer,” middle school students watch a 30-minute video from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum about the Wright Brothers. Teachers can access photos, articles, and other videos in the collection. Most importantly, the collection has three lesson plans that tell you what standards they meet.

Check out the Smithsonian Learning Lab today. Darren Milligan, the Director of the Lab and the Senior Digital Strategist for the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the 15-person Learning Lab staff hold weekly online office hours for interested teachers every Tuesday.

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