Found 581 Learning Lab Collections
In 2014-2015, artist and illustrator Maira Kalman created a personal collection that was displayed at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Her collection drew from across the Smithsonian museums and reflected a life story. Her inspiration and thinking is shared in the video resource that begins this collection, and some of the objects that she included (or similar ones) are shared.
Can you create your own collection of "favorite things"? What story would it tell? What people, places, and objects would it connect to? What emotions would it evoke?
tags: design, art, activity, personal, inspiration, creativity, biography
This collection explores a number of Supreme Court cases all looking at the rights students have in the American public school system. Students will encounter these court cases through primary and secondary sources, videos, photographs, podcasts, and historical objects. At the end of the lesson, students should be able construct an argument based off the compelling question "Are student rights protected in school?"
This collection asks students to examine an image entitled "Waiting for the Hour" and to try to determine its meaning and purpose. Students will practice interpretation with justification and then learn more about the history of "watch night services" and the importance of the 1862 watch night in United States history. They will also consider the legacy of this image--a copy is currently hanging in the White House.
tags: emancipation, freedom, Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, proclamation
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonianlaw codeof ancient Mesopotamia, dating back to about 1754 BC (Middle Chronology). It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a seven and a half foot stone steleand various clay tablets. The code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man. The code was discovered by modern archaeologistsin 1901, and its editio princeps translation published in 1902 by Jean-Vincent Scheil. This nearly complete example of the code is carved into a basalt stele in the shape of a huge index finger 2.25 m (7.4 ft) tall. The code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform scriptcarved into the stele.
Something You should Know About Hammurabi's Code
In the 18th century B.C., the Babylonian King Hammurabi fashioned a compendium of 282 laws that set standards of conduct and justice for his empire in ancient Mesopotamia. Etched on an imposing seven-and-a-half-foot diorite pillar, or stele, the commands covered everything from property rights and criminal behaviour to slavery and divorce, and promised brutal punishments for all who disobeyed. These famous pre-Biblical laws helped shape Babylonian life in Hammurabi's time, but their influence would echo throughout the ancient world for over a millennia. Below, find out more about the fascinating history behind one of antiquity's most important legal codes.
It's not the earliest known code of laws.
Hammurabi's dictates are often cited as the oldest written laws on record, but they were predated by at least two other ancient codes of conduct from the Middle East. The earliest, created by the Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu of the city of Ur, dates all the way back to the 21st century B.C., and evidence also shows that the Sumerian Code of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin was drawn up nearly two centuries before Hammurabi came to power. These earlier codes both bear a striking resemblance to Hammurabi's commands in their style and content, suggesting they may have influenced one another or perhaps even derived from a similar source.
The Code included many bizarre and gruesome forms of punishment.
Hammurabi's Code is one of the most famous examples of the ancient precept of "lex talionis," or law of retribution, a form of retaliatory justice commonly associated with the saying "an eye for an eye." Under this system, if a man broke the bone of one his equals, his own bone would be broken in return. Capital crimes, meanwhile, were often met with their own unique and grisly death penalties. If a son and mother were caught committing incest, they were burned to death; if a pair of scheming lovers conspired to murder their spouses, both were impaled. Even a relatively minor crime could earn the offender a horrific fate. For example, if a son hit his father, the Code demanded the boy's hands be "hewn off."
The laws varied according to social class and gender.
Hammurabi's Code took a brutal approach to justice, but the severity of criminal penalties often depended on the identity of both the lawbreaker and the victim. While one law commanded, "If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out," committing the same crime against a member of a lower class was punished with only a fine. Other rank-based penalties were even more significant. If a man killed a pregnant "maid-servant," he was punished with a monetary fine, but if he killed a "free-born" pregnant woman, his own daughter would be killed as retribution. The Code also listed different punishments for men and women with regard to marital infidelity. Men were allowed to have extramarital relationships with maid-servants and slaves, but philandering women were to be bound and tossed into the Euphrates along with their lovers.
The Code established a minimum wage for workers.
Hammurabi's Code was surprisingly ahead of its time when it came to laws addressing subjects like divorce, property rights and the prohibition of incest, but perhaps most progressive of all was a stipulation mandating an ancient form of minimum wage. Several edicts in the Code referenced specific occupations and dictated how much the workers were to be paid. Field laborers and herdsmen were guaranteed a wage of "eight gur of corn per year," and ox drivers and sailors received six gur. Doctors, meanwhile, were entitled to 5 shekels for healing a freeborn man of a broken bone or other injury, but only three shekels for a freed slave and two shekels for a slave.
The Code includes one of the earliest examples of the presumption of innocence.
While it's notorious for its catalogue of barbaric punishments, Hammurabi's Code also set several valuable legal precedents that have survived to this day. The compendium is among the earliest legal documents to put forth a doctrine of "innocent until proven guilty." In fact, the Code places the burden of proof on the accuser in extreme fashion when it says, "If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death." The Code also includes a modern take on judicial procedures.
Historians are still unsure of the role the Code played in Babylonian culture.
Hammurabi's Code offers a valuable glimpse into what daily life in ancient Babylonia might have been like, but just how the laws functioned in society is still up for debate. The statutes could have been a list of amendments to an even earlier and more expansive set of general laws, but they might also have acted as a set of judicial precedents compiled from real world cases. Some historians have even argued the Code was not a working legal document at all, but rather a piece of royal propaganda created to enshrine Hammurabi as a great and just ruler.
The Code endured even after Babylon was conquered.
Hammurabi's empire went into decline after his death in 1750 B.C. before unraveling entirely in 1595 B.C., when a Hittite army sacked Babylon and claimed its riches. Nevertheless, Hammurabi's Code proved so influential that it endured as a legal guide in the region for several centuries, even as rule over Mesopotamia repeatedly switched hands. Copying the Code also appears to have been a popular assignment for scribes-in-training. In fact, fragments of the laws have been found on clay tablets dating to as late as the 5th century B.C.—more than 1,000 years after Hammurabi's reign.
The laws weren't rediscovered until the 20th century.
Hammurabi's edicts were a fixture of the ancient world, but the laws were later lost to history and weren't rediscovered until 1901, when a team of French archeologists unearthed the famous diorite stele at the ancient city of Susa, Iran, once the seat of the Elamite Empire. Historians believe the Elamite King Shutruk-Nahhunte plundered the four-ton slab during a 12th century B.C. raid on the Babylonian city of Sippar and then brought it to Susa as a treasure of war. Shutruk-Nahhunte is thought to have erased several columns from the monument to make space for his own inscription, but no text was ever added. Today, the pillar is kept on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
This collection includes three photographs by Farm Security Administration artists that use language and image to create an American scene in the late 1930s-early 1940s. The first has become an iconic image of the Great Depression by Margaret Bourke-White, although it has a more specific history that users will learn about. Students will be asked to consider why the first image became so closely linked with the Great Depression, how the artist and author used irony to make a statement, and how different groups may have experienced the Depression in different ways. After reading a passage from Bud Not Buddy (by Christopher Paul Curtis) and answering reflective questions, students will write their own passage about one of the remaining photographs.
-How do these artists use images and language to create rich portraits of America?
-In what way do these images suggest divisions or unity within America during hte 1930s and 1940s?
Tags: Bud Not Buddy, Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Farm Security Administration, soup kitchen, bread line, hobo, hoboes, comparison, irony, descriptive writing
How did apartheid affect the lives of blacks living in Johannesburg in the late 1940s and early 1950s? What was the purpose of forced removal?
This student activity uses the examination of historical photographs as an entry point to learning about the forced removal of blacks from urban areas to townships & homelands under apartheid in South Africa. The images here are all from Sophiatown and Soweto. What details emerge about the life changes that resulted from being moved? What questions remain?
Soap is a common household chemical used around the world. Using the See/Think/Wonder visible thinking tool, this collection explores:
- The history of soap,
- Why Ivory soap floats,
- Why soap can be used for cleaning, and
- How is soap made.
Through photographs, text, videos, interviews, a map & a 3D model, students can explore the history of the oldest surviving American naval vessel, the Gunboat Philadelphia, which is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The Philadelphia (1776) played an important role during the Revolutionary War. The first five resources in this collection show the discovery and preservation of the sunken boat, while the last three offer more information on its historical significance.
This could be used by students to consider what each type of media reveals. What information can you learn from the single resource? From the collection of media combined? What more context is needed?
Students are to read a series of primary sources from the survivors or witnesses to the Holocaust during World War 2. Students then look at various memorials that were created to remember the Holocaust and decide which is the most applicable to their person. Students need to explain using evidence from both the primary source and the memorial.
In this collection, students will review the life of Frederick Douglass and learn about one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of Fourth of July for the Negro" (it is also commonly referred to as "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July). They will examine primary and secondary sources related to the speech to determine what Douglas's goal was with this speech and how it is often percieved today.
The Vin Fiz was the first aeroplane to cross the United States from coast to coast. At a maximum speed of 51 mph and many in flight set backs, the Vin Fiz made the crossing in over 84 days.
This student activity focuses on the concepts of globalization and cultural diffusion. Students will look at a variety of artifacts and explain how they illustrate the two concepts and/or help answer the guiding questions below:
- What is globalization and how does it affect people and places?
- What leads to cultural diffusion?
A learning resource to help develop students' ability to analyze an image and form an argument. The images in this collection are different portrayals of women in the United States during the 1950s. As you look through them, have your students think about these three key questions:
-What is being shown in the image?
-How is the woman represented in the image? Use concrete details from the image.
-Does the image compare to modern representations of women? Why or why not?
The collection ends with a quiz that can either be used as assignment to gauge the students' ability to pull together their analysis into a conclusion or a class discussion.
Ever since their first appearance in the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's ruby slippers quickly became one of the most iconic pieces of pop culture. But, did you know that other notable events also took place in 1939? In the same year that Dorothy walked down the Yellow Brick Road while wearing the ruby slippers, Germany invaded Poland, Batman first appeared in comics, Lou Gehrig retired from the New York Yankees, and much more. Explore this collection of images to witness key moments from 1939.
This collection examines the causes of U.S. imperialism at the turn of the century through the lens of two political cartoons. Students will investigate both cartoons and develop a definition of imperialism based on what they find.
this collection, we look at portraiture through the lens of the 30
second look strategy. This looking strategy allows participants 30
seconds to look at a portrait, and then turn away from the portrait and
have a conversation about what they saw. This activity challenges
participants to first look on their own and then have a collaborative
conversation with their peers.
Visually rich portraits, with both objects and setting, are most effective when using this strategy.
The 30 Seconds lesson helps students to use their visual and memorizing skills. The lessons will sentence starters like "I think and I know" to introduce fact and opinion, which will encourage creativity.
The activity can also help to exercises their....
Focusing on key details
The activity can be done as a whole group discussion, partner work, or independently. I will use the Kagan strategy Rally Coach on the second portrait with the purpose of building their language skills and taking ownership of their learning. Students will work with a peer what they saw during the 30 seconds of looking at the portrait. Then, they will share in their opinion what they think is happening in the setting and what is the person in the portrait doing and thinking.
This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery, as well as resource and information.
This collection of photographs provides insight into the Scopes Trial in 1925. "Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered rare, unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes “Monkey Trial" in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The nitrate negatives, including portraits of trial participants, and images from the trial itself and significant places in Dayton, were discovered in archival material donated to the Smithsonian by Science Service in 1971."
"Science Service is a Washington, D.C.-based organization founded in 1921 for the promotion of science writing and information about science in the media. Watson Davis (1896-1967), the Science Service managing editor, took these photographs when covering the Scopes trial as a reporter. In the 1925 trial, John Scopes was tried and convicted for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. William Jennings Bryan served on the prosecution team, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes."
Collection users might consider the following questions:
-How effective are court cases at swaying popular opinion? Can you think of other examples of this?
-How did this trial reflect the changes in mass media, science, and religion occurring in the 1920s?
-It is said that Bryan "won the case, but lost the argument." What is meant by that statement?
-How do these archival photographs challenge previously held conceptions of the case?
Source for text in quotes throughout collection: Smithsonian Institution Archives. Web. Accessed 16 Aug. 2016 http://siarchives.si.edu/research/scopes.html.
In this collection, students will review the life of Frederick Douglass and learn about one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of Fourth of July for the Negro" (it is also commonly referred to as "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July). They will explore the strategies he uses to persuade and compare staged readings of the speech. Next, they will consider the central question posed by Douglass--how does the history of racial injustice in the United States affect our understanding of national symbols and what they mean? In addition, how do the diverse opinions of the many citizens of the United States present both challenges and opportunities for our nation?
Teachers may draw relevant connections to today and recent protests during the national anthem by professional, collegiate, and high school sports teams.
This collection explores the essential question: How are robots changing human life? Students will lead an inquiry into this question through a variety of resources - objects, videos, articles, and websites - examining the history of robotics from the 16th century to the present, the problems robot designers have attempted to address with their inventions, and how they try to address them. Supporting questions to scaffold students' inquiry include: What problems were these robots designed to address? Have these problems changed over time? Have strategies for addressing these problems changed over time?
Collection of Political Cartoons from the late 1800s/early 1900s (Mostly Imperialism)
This collection includes a variety of photographs taken by Lisa Law. Students will examine the photographs and a few artifacts and try to draw conclusions about the ways in which the commune or back-to-the-land movement challenged the norms of traditional United States society in the 1960s and 1970s. A link to an exhibit website is include and allows students to check their assumptions, and students are asked to compare elements of the counterculture with that of mainstream 1960s and 1970s culture.
Tags: counterculture, commune, hippie, granola, back to nature, communal living, co-op, cooperative, sixties, seventies, Woodstock, change over time, compare, ashram, silent majority
"Remember Pearl Harbor" was a call to action, that rallied all Americans to step up and support the war in any way they could. This collection explores the symbolism and impact of lapel pins produced during World War II.
This learning lab consists of portraits painted by John Singleton Copley, one of America's first painters. The subjects included all played a role either prior to or during the revolution.
This student activity teaches students about the Chinese creation story of Pangu and introduces them to other common symbols in ancient Chinese mythology.
Guiding questions include:
-How does this story compare to other creation myths you may know? Are there common elements?
-In what way does this story reflect a distinctly Chinese culture or system of belief?
Tags: Pan gu, Panku, creation, origin, myth, compare contrast, yin yang, Taoism, Daoism, Buddhism, Buddhism, Confucius, Laozi, dragon, qilin, turtle, phoenix, ancient China, religion