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The Smithsonian Learning Lab is about discovery, creation, and sharing.

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The thrill of discovery awaits you in the Smithsonian Learning Lab. From the Discovery space shuttle to the Star Spangled Banner to dinosaur fossils, the Learning Lab gives everyone with a desire to learn the opportunity to explore the Smithsonian's rich resources anytime, anywhere.


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Free your imagination – create personal collections using the Smithsonian's vast resources and add your own resources or those from other sources. Add notes, develop quizzes or create complete lessons or artistic collections, and build upon each for more personal and memorable learning.


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Quiz your students on the U.S. presidents; awe your friends with handpicked photographic art and share your personalized collections. Become part of a collaborative, global community of learners who are passionate about bringing to light new knowledge, ideas, and insight.


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Smithsonian Staff Picks

 

3D-Printing and Scanning

A collection of 3D printing and scanning applications from the Smithsonian.
Brian Ausland
6
 

My Smithsonian Closet

You could be exceptionally well-dressed if the Smithsonian were your closet.
Kate Harris
29
 

Stamp Stories: The Revolutionary War

A resource demonstrating a fun and engaging teaching strategy, Stamp Stories.
Postage stamps are not simply a means to send a letter but can serve as windows into the history and cultures of the world. Every stamp tells a story. Simultaneously a primary and secondary source; the subject depicted on a stamp presents opportunities for innovative teaching strategies that appeal specifically to visual learners.

In this lesson, students build their own stamp collections to show what they’ve learned and debate why the stamps they've chosen reflect the given theme.

This specific collection features the Revolutionary War but the technique may be applied to any subject or theme as an assessment, review tool, or ice breaker.
Emily Murgia
14
 

Writing Inspiration: Using Art to Spark Narrative Story Elements

The Smithsonian museum collection inspires many to research the history behind artifacts, but this collection explores the use of art and artifacts to spark creative story writing. Students will choose artifacts to craft characters, a setting, and a plot conflict to create and write a narrative story.

Targeted Vocabulary: Narrative, protagonist , antagonist, character, character traits, setting, plot, climax, and conflict.

After reading and analyzing several narrative stories for story elements such as character, setting, plot, climax, and conflict, students will use this collection to begin planning their own narrative stories.
Individuals or partners will first view the portraits and discuss possible stories behind each face before choosing a protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters. They may begin to discuss and imagine character traits for each subject.
Next, the student will select a landscape setting in which the story may take place. The writer will describe the landscape, imagine a time period, and name the location.
Finally, the student will either choose an action artifact around which to build a major plot event, or have that slide as a minor scene in their story.
Students may use the Question Formulation Technique to garner ideas for background stories behind the faces. http://rightquestion.org/
Once the story elements are in place, the students may begin to draft narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

With the artifacts selected as the major story elements, the students may begin crafting their narrative story. The artifacts can then be displayed as illustrations in the published narratives.
Kathy Powers
66