Crime Scene Neanderthal – Public Launch and Coverage in Rotunda

Under the headline, “Solve a Science-Based Mystery Designed by Teens,” the AMNH’s seasonal Rotunda magazine featured a full page article describing Crime Scene Neanderthal in the week before it’s public (beta!) launch this Sunday. (It also includes an official teaser for MicroRangers later this year!).

Check out some of what they had to say below:

High school students Monica Chhay and Sarah Carrillo show a visitor how to use a smartphone to create virtual Neanderthal tools. © AMNH/M. Shanley


The Museum’s Sackler Educational Laboratory is looking for a few good
Neanderthal detectives—and you just might fit the bill.

Earlier this year, 19 high school seniors from Millennium Brooklyn High
School wrapped up a 14-week program in which they worked with a science
advisor and Museum staff to develop an interactive experience for family visitors
based on cutting-edge research and rooted in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins
and the Sackler Educational Laboratory. Drawing on the latest findings about our
relatives Homo neanderthalensis, it even has a ready-for-prime-time name: CSN:
Crime Scene Neanderthal.

Family visitors who participate in CSN will be led by student interns, armed
with a paper guide and a mobile app, to explore both virtual and cast Neanderthal
fossils to solve a science-based mystery. It’s part of an experimental approach to
engaging youth in science learning by challenging students to co-design a unique
Museum experiences for families.

“CSN is both a fantastic opportunity for the students and a 21st-century learning
experience for Museum visitors,” says Barry Joseph, the Museum’s associate
director for digital learning. “CSN helps us explore what digital layers—like mobile
games, augmented reality, access to real-time information, and more—can add to a
young visitor’s engagement with scientific content within the Museum.”

In April and May, Members will have a chance to experience the program
firsthand when the student developers return to the Museum to test the
prototype with the public, guiding groups of families and youth to dioramas and
microscopes to unravel such puzzles as: how do we know a Neanderthal’s hair
color? What can clues tell us about Neanderthal culture? What killed off this
recent human relative? (See the sidebar for details on how you can participate.)

“This interactive experience will add new content to the hall and show visitors
that science is a dynamic process with new information emerging all the time,”
says Julia Zichello, manager of the Sackler Educational Lab. “CSN more directly
links the hall to the hands-on experience in the lab.”

Coming soon from another student digital learning project: MicroRangers, a
mobile game to solve problems related to microbial organisms, biodiversity, and
human health, that will launch this fall as the Museum opens a special exhibition
on the human microbiome.

Download the full issue and read the whole thing here.

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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