The Augmented Activity Guide Program Culminating Event

The second week of the Augmented Activity Guide Program flew by in a blur as the GK Leaders worked hard to develop and design their activity pages. Early in the week they had the opportunity to meet, via Skype, Nadine Kocanjer, Manager of the Wilderness Explorer program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to learn about how activities in family activity guides are designed. Here two of the teens show off their own ideas and get feedback from Nadine.


Brea and Shyann describe for Nadine their button blanket activity.

A second Skype highlight of the week was getting to meet, Nika Collison, Museum Curator at the Haida Gwaii Museum and collaborator on writing the story within our guide. Here two more teens practice presenting their activity pages and get valuable feedback from Nika.


Louis and Jerron share with Nika their ideas for an activity for the Puffin mask.

Before we knew it, Friday, August 15th had arrived and the youth were taking the stage to present the first prototype of the Augmented Family Activity Guide.

Next, the six pairs of youth leaders from Global Kids took turns reading each chapter of the prototype out loud to the audience before walking everyone through the activities they had designed. Activities designed by the youth ranged from coloring and drawing, to connect-the-dots and word searches.

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Fun facts at the end of each chapter, selected by the youth, and a result of their independent research, provide additional information about the cultural treasures included in the guide and highlight some of the objects’ contemporary uses.

After presenting all of their hard work the MCs of the event transitioned to a Q&A session with the audience:

The GK leaders then headed to the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians to show off their hard work to their captivated audience who had copies of the family activity guide prototype and color pencils in hand.


Milton and Jevaughn answer questions and discuss the activities they designed for the berry picking hat and halibut hooks and floats.


Darweshi and Kendal help visitors locate spoons in the Haida alcove.


Christian and Karishma answer questions about formline on the Great Canoe in the Grand Gallery.

We asked the youth to reflect on their experience in the program and they described it as “informative” and “educational” as well as “interactive” and “fun.” They were amazed at how much they had learned in two weeks about a culture they “didn’t even know existed” when the program began.

Youth also expressed pride knowing that their ideas will enhance the experience of young visitors acknowledging that “my ideas came to life” and “[museum staff] wouldn’t have the right outlook on it; it would be an adult point of view. …We have younger siblings so we know what they like.” They also described feeling very inspired “to be a part of something, because some people never get to do this once in a lifetime opportunity” and “very happy that I have the opportunity to design the activity guide pages. I am looking forward to seeing my work being displayed in the museum.”

When asked what they would remember 5 years from now about the program youth said:

  • “I will remember something on paper coming to life. I will also remember the crests used by the Haida.”
  • “I gained experience as an anthropologist.”
  • “I have learned many new things, but the thing that stands out to me as really interesting is the Haida crests. The reason why is because the Haida people put so much importance to the crests I want to know what other crests they have have and what do they represent and the story behind them.”
  • “It’s been cool to learn more about different ways of life and cultures. It seems to me as if there can be hundreds perhaps thousands of Totem Pole designs that can be original and unique. What attracts me most are they are a rare and physical beauty to “get lost in.” What I mean by that is, looking at the unique beauty of one of these Totem Poles can attract you for almost as long as it wants.”
  • “Five years from now I’ll remember being with my friends and having fun.”

The GK Leaders on stage at the culminating event.




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My interview on EduTalk Radio – “Digital Learning For Your Students and the American Museum of Natural History”

This was a blast! My good buddy Elizabeth Merritt from AAM passed my name onto Larry Jacobs, who runs EduTalk Radio. It was fun to speak with Larry about the latest in greatest in digital learning at AMNH. Check it out below (or the original here):

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with EduTalk on BlogTalkRadio
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The MicroRangers Final Presentation

In June, the MicroMuseum program ended with a successful culminating event, with over 70 people in attendance!

Once the audience arrived and got settled, the MicroRanger MCs started their presentation, they introduced the other MicroRangers, some of the topics covered over the course of the program and, of course, the MicroRangers game. The room was then divided in half.

One group stayed put to hear about all of the work the students did over the course of the program, including swabbing different locations across the museum for bacteria, and all of the work that went into designing the game itself. The other group went out into the Hall to test the prototype with several MicroRangers to serve as guides. The groups switched to make sure everyone had the chance to experience the prototype, and then the critique and Q&A sessions took place.

You can watch the students’ presentation of all of the work they did in addition to the critique and Q&A sessions in the video below.

This second video captures the testing of the prototype in the Halls.

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“Making History in a Place of History” – More on Youth Geeking Out on Northwest Coast Content

Last week my post on the Museum’s collaboration with Global Kids to produce a prototype for a new family activity guide for our Hall of Northwest Coast Indians tended to focus on the getting-up & running-around activities, like this one:

But actually, much of the time has also been spent observing the cultural treasures in the hall and researching them. This is an example of the GK Leaders using the 1905 report by John Swanton (Contributions to the ethnology of the Haida. Memoirs of the AMNH ; [v. 8, pt. 1]) to research the objects they selected within the Hall. These two teens love this one particular hat, so much so they are always talking about how they can get a print on a shirt, and this video shows how they learn, for the first time, which crest is represented on it:

Here are some GK Leaders using photos they took in the Hall to research more about it with Swanton:


Finally, here is a GK Leader using our Anthro Database to look at the original handwritten entry within the Manuscript Catalog to learn more about her object:


Another highlight for the teens at the end of last week was getting to meet, via Skype, Shoshanna Greene. Shoshanna is a resident of Haida Gwaii, a college student, and an aspiring artist. She will also be creating much of the original art within the Activity Guide. In the image below, you can see how the teens approached the screen to ask Shoshanna questions as she presented to the whole group:

Skype meeting with Shoshanna and GK Youth Leaders

At the end of the week, we asked the teens to reflect on what they had been learning so far. Jevougn said something so profound I asked him to repeat it, but this time on camera:

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Developing a “Need to Know” around Native Cultural Treasures

In my last post, I introduced a bit of the early feel of our Augmented Activity Guide program. (I know… terrible name. We had a good one for a time, but when the program outgrew it we never found a new shell…) Mostly I wanted to show how much fun the teens were having while learning. This post I’d like to share a little more about their growing relationship with the content.

Trying out button blankets in the Museum’s Discovery Room.

Yesterday was day 4 (of 10) within the program. On day 2 they came to the Museum as a group for the first time (and, for many of them, for the first time in their lives). They learned about the Hall of NW Coast Indians, in 45 minutes – a quick visit, to be sure. Then the next day they spent more time with the Museum’s Anthropology Collection Database – a remarkable collection of over a quarter million digitized records of cultural items. (Go check it out!) The Global Kids Leaders were tasked with picking cultural treasures from the Haida Nation that might appear in our activity guide prototype. And on Day 4, after having picked items that caught their fancy, they returned to the Museum and got to look at them in person, with their own eyes, within the Hall.

That experience is mostly what I’d like to share below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 10.16.45 PMTake for example the item listed as “Catalog No: 16 / 8443Field No: 3,” which you can see here, collected by AMNH’s John Swanton, under the direction of Franz Boas, in 1901, or otherwise simply knows as “spoon.” A search in the database on “spoon,” along with “on View in AMNH Halls” and Cultures set to “Haida,” returns over 30 cultural treasures. But for some reason it was THIS spoon that caught the eyes of the team who selected it. And on Day 4, they were going to find it.

First they had to use the black and white print-out from the web site (image on right) to locate it within the case. Now, frankly, I wasn’t sure it was even in the case. Less than half of our Haida spoons are on display in the Hall – the rest are in storage. But they kept looking. Even with the low light, using their cellphone to explore each spoon, they tried to match the crests found in the printed image with the crests seen behind the glass.

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Sneak Peak at New Digital Project on Hall of Northwest Coast Indians

This week a sizable crew of us from the Museum are working downtown at the offices of Global Kids, Inc, through a two week partnership. The project is teaching the Global Kids youth leaders about our Hall of Northwest Coast Indians, the contemporary Haida Nation, augmented reality, and more. I’ll add to this later but, in short, the project will culminate at the Museum next week with a design document that will offer a new way for children to experience the cultural treasures within the Hall.

As we approach the end of our first week, I wanted to share a few photos and videos of the youth and their work.

In this activity we ran a form of Pictionary, to review the crests we were learning about:

We showed the GK Leaders some original art from an artist with whom we are partnering, Shoshanna Greene. With no explanation from us, the teens were challenged to interpret the drawing, imagine they were lost within it, and then act it out. Here is one example:

To learn about the geography of the North West Coast, the teens received puzzle pieces, then used the Web to research the locations of the different First Nations:


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New video promotion for Pterosaurs: The Card Game

I am excited to be able to share with you the video previously available only within our pterosaurs exhibit. It promotes both our exhibit app and the augmented component of Pterosaurs: The Card Game. Enjoy and please share.

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