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Found 6,091 Collections


A STEAM Approach to Understanding Bees

Explore bees' behavior and their role in pollination through real-world sources and data and meet Smithsonian experts in the field. This collection includes instructional strategy, student activities, assessment, and extension ideas. Organization is made visible by divider tabs indicating such components as concept understanding, Project Zero thinking routines, and calls to action.

This collection was developed by Sandra Vilevac, STEAM Specialist, Washington International School. See Sandra's other collections by searching the Learning Lab for #SmithsonianSTEAM.

Keywords: animal, insect, plant adaptation, animal communication, flowers, pollen, honey, hive, engineering, entomologist, pollinator, colony, system

Thank you to our sponsor, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.


Sandra Vilevac

A STEAM Approach to Exploring Identity with Your Students

How is identity constructed? What role does biology play? 

This collection will highlight:

-how portraiture can be integrated into the science classroom by making connections between identity and genetics

-how we can explore identity from a broader perspective, utilizing global thinking routines

This collection is a collaboration between a Portrait Gallery educator and a high school IB Biology teacher, and was the topic of a professional development workshop at the museum and an NAEA session, both in March 2018. 


Briana White

A Special Place - Woodcut & Linocut Prints

View selected prints of different places, then discuss:

  • What is the first thing you notice?
  • What do you believe is special about this place?
  • How did the artist use composition to highlight what is special?

Choose one print to examine:

  • What kinds of lines, patterns or textures did the artist use?
  • How did the artist use tools to create areas of light and dark?

Apply in your own work:

  • What makes a place special or meaningful to you?
  • What clues will help capture the uniqueness of your special place?


  • Draw a picture of a special place using foreground, middle ground, and background. Use a variety of lines and cross hatching to create texture and value.
  • Sketch your special place, then transfer the design to a soft rubber printing plate. Using a lino cutter, outline the major areas and cut away areas that will remain light. Use a variety of lines and cross hatching to create areas of light and dark in the prints. Ink your printing plate and pull several prints.
  • Create a painting of a special place using foreground, middle ground, and background. Mix tints and shades. Use color to communicate an emotion linked to your special place.  

Jean-Marie Galing

A Sky Full of Color: Live from Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Balloons have a long and colorful history. After all, the first hot-air balloon passengers were a sheep, duck, and rooster who flew from France in 1783. Since then, balloons have been a mode of transportation, a military asset, and a source of entertainment for many. Join STEM in 30 as we come to you live from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, bringing you the history of balloons, the science behind hot-air and gas balloons, and the pageantry of the Fiesta.

October 5, 2016

STEM in 30 at National Air and Space Museum

A Shape-Note Singing Lesson

Shape-note singing is a tradition that began in the American South as a simple way to teach the reading of music to congregations. Each note head has a distinctive, easy-to-remember shape. What a great way, then, to introduce the reading of music to children!

In this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, "A Shape-Note Singing Lesson," you'll find a lesson plan and a background essay. Click the PDF icon to see the issue. Click the last box for audio samples of shape-note hymns from the Smithsonian Folkways archives.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

A Right to the City

These items are housed in the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and appear in the exhibit A Right to the City curated by Samir Meghelli.

"The history of Washington neighborhoods reveals the struggles of DC residents to control—or even participate in—decisions affecting where and how they live. Prior to passage of Home Rule in the 1970s, Congressmen, private developers, appointed members of the local government, and even sitting Presidents decided the course of the city’s development, often with little or no input from residents.  

In the mid-twentieth century, massive federal “urban renewal” projects, school desegregation, and major highways, both proposed and built, spurred civic engagement, protest, alternative proposals for development, and a push for self-government. By 1968, “White man’s roads through black man’s homes” became a rallying cry, pointing to the racism that afflicted the urban and suburban planning of the era.  

A Right to the City highlights episodes in the history of six neighborhoods across the city, telling the story of how ordinary Washingtonians have helped shape and reshape their neighborhoods in extraordinary ways: through the fight for quality public education, for healthy and green communities, for equitable development and transit, and for a genuinely democratic approach to city planning."

Kathy Carroll

A Reflection of Slave Treatment and Culture

Slavery in the United States serves as one of the darkest times for american society, yet its end was one of the most influential ones in helping shape a more equal modern society. This period showed a complete disregard for the humanity of slaves, not solely represented by the harsh treatment they endured or by the poor conditions they lived in, but by the way society had perceived them as well, all of which, this collection aims to illustrate

The following collection is a reflection of slave life, such as: the harsh treatment slaves received, the almost complete control that their owners had over them, or just how they were perceived as seemingly meaningless pieces of property. Since many slaves were illiterate, primary literary resources from slaves themselves are scarce, therefore much of the cultural history of slaves are portrayed by records slave owners and/or merchants, or material items from either slave masters or slaves themselves. The collection begins with a few historical items representing the origin of one's life as a slave, such as a diagram of a crowded slave ship or a receipt of purchase, which illustrate how slaves were seen as property rather than human. The collection then proceeds into some cheaply made material possessions a slave would have owned, then takes a rather darker turn. The collection proceeds into evidence of harsh punishment towards slaves, such as a high bounties for escaping and torture devices, before finally ending off with a picture of a slave who had been brutally beaten, and a book from an escaped slave girl herself. The two latter items are examples of pieces that helped lead America towards the emancipation proclamation, resulting in the total abolition of slavery in 1863.

Hunter Meech

A Plane's Purpose

This learning lab will help aid the unit plan based on engineering and design. The learning lab "A Plane's Purpose" will be used during the first of three lessons in the unit plan. 

The first lesson is where the students will learn all about the functions and purposes of certain planes. This lab can be used during and after the lesson. When used during the lesson, the instructor can use it to provide information about the planes. After the lesson, students can refer back to it on their own to help them with research, details, or ideas. 

When using the learning lab during the lesson, make sure to go over each plane and what is was used for. The last plane in the learning lab should specifically be the Douglas C-47 because it is a plane that had a variety of uses. Emphasize that the way that the C-47 was designed, allowed it to be versatile, which is why design is important when the students begin their own. With the different images of the C-47, you can show how it is used differently in each mission. At the end of the lesson, go back and review the different aircrafts and what they were used for. You can also introduce other aircrafts that have other uses that were not mentioned in the lab.

 The purpose of the lab is to help students identify details that they might want to incorporate when designing their plane. 

Samantha Tufaga

A Mouse Like a House? A Pocket Elephant?

This 1987 issue of Art to Zoo engages students in a discussion of animal size and the importance of size in an animal’s life. It includes activities in which the students compare animal size differences, with a focus on metabolism and body temperature. Click the PDF icon to download the issue.

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

A Morning in Damascus

This collection features a series of three independent activities around one singular portrait of Bayard Taylor (formally titled A Morning in Damascus) painted by Thomas Hicks, 1855.  Taylor was one of America's foremost and most popular travel writers of the mid to late 19th century.  

These activities were created for my Advanced Placement World History course to practice close reading skills as well as historical thinking skills.  The notations provided here are for teacher reference and would not be given to students. 

This collection was created in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery's 2017 Learning to Look Summer Teacher Institute.



Lauren Hetrick

A Man on the Moon, but a Woman Got Him There: The Story of Margaret Hamilton

This topical collection includes images and links that give a short biography of Margaret Hamilton, the forgotten hero of the moon landing who invented software engineering.
Goal: Students will be able to synthesize the information from different sources and answer the questions at the end cohesively.
Tags: Margaret Hamilton, Apollo VIII, Apollo 8, Apollo XI, Apollo 11, moon landing, computer science, software
Jade Lintott

A Look at the Material Culture of George Washington: Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Portrayal in American Society

This collection seeks to present and display aspects of revolutionary soldier's lives, their time during war and their eventual portrayal in American history. This collection will analyze all of this by studying their material culture and by focusing at possibly the most famous soldier from the American Revolution, George Washington.

The following items can give us insight into what life was like for some of the historically notable figures of the American Revolution through drafted resolutions, clothing and uniforms that soldiers wore, weapons that they used, and later works that showed the popular view of the figures in the American Revolution.

Item One- Regimental Uniform Coat of Colonel Peter Gansevoort Jr, 1777

Item Two- Colonial Powder Horn

Item Three- George Washington's Sword and Scabbard, 1765

Item Four- Braddock Pistol (Gift given to George Washington), 1777

Item Five- George Washington's Uniform, 1789

Item Six- George Washington's Camp Chest, 1776-1781

Item Seven- Pitcher Displaying "Washington/Independence", 1800

Item Eight-Samuel Williams' "A History of the American Revolution", 1795

Item Nine-Piece of George Washington's Coffin (Gifted to Leverett Saltonstall), 1840

Item Ten- Frank Mayer's Painting of Continental Soldiers at Bunker Hill, 1876

These items display different aspects of the Revolutionary War showing the beginning of the war with the drafting of soldiers, then showing what other items they

The uniform worn by Colonel Gansevoort and was more than likely made from cloth imported of France and was likely not highly common but showed his rank and what some Continental soldiers may have worn.

The powder horn shows what a typical tool used by soldiers may have looked like and shows just one example of the amount of time soldiers spent personalizing these items.

Washington's sword holds value as it was a weapon used during the war and it is an item that still held value as an historically important item to the people it was passed down to. The sword was valued by the family members that it was passed down until it was donated to the US government.

The Braddock pistol and Washington's uniform also show us what some of the personal items of Washington looked like and the amount of value that was placed on items such as these. Both items were written about by Washington personally and when he misplaced the pistol he seemed very concerned about finding it again.

The camp chest show us one of the many items that soldiers would have carried with them throughout the war and used to carry personal items to different camps.

Both the pitcher and Samuel Williams book hold a lot of importance in this collection because they show the portrayal of the American Revolution years after it had passed. These items showed active motivation to catalog and portray the revolution as an historically important event and one that was looked on positively by the new American society. This portrayal of the Revolutionary War would be carried on Frank Mayer's painting of Continental soldiers almost a hundred years later. This is also clear in Washington's portrayal and glorification as an American hero which is displayed by the treatment of even his coffin when a piece of it is gifted to a New York congressmen years after his death.

Mark Hilberath

A Look at America Culture Through Art: 18th and 19th Centuries

This collection gives a glimpse into American culture and life in the United States in late 18th century and early 19th century. While not all of these works are "fine"  art, most have artistic elements and are important to the changing American landscape. In addition to being decorative or having decorative elements, many of these objects have practical purposes.  Some of these objects are used to make life easier, but most are important because they signify American values and unity. The clock, steamboat, and map serve a practical purpose, but also exemplify Americas growing reliance on, and fascination with, technology. The Stamp Act pin, landscape paintings, and firman portrait help create a national identity and capture american values. The slave badge and congress etching are a reminder of conflicting American ideals and examine America's history. These pictures are visually interesting, but also characterize early American culture in its beginning stages.

Nicolas Lyman

A Long Walk to Water

     This collection is to be used in conjunction with the novel, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  The lesson concept spans the total of three 55 minute class periods for a middle school ELA course.  

   Students will begin by completing a pre-reading activity where they will analyze the artwork, Iceman Crucified #4through a "See, Think,Wonder" activity.  Students will then discuss the overarching ideas or themes that they observed in the piece.  This lesson will end with students making a prediction about the book, A Long Walk to Water, through previewing the cover/title and using information from the artwork to predict a possible theme of the story.  

   After reading chapters 1-4, students will then begin analyzing their predictions.  They will also be introduced to a new piece of art, The Girl I Left Behind, to analyze in conjunction with another character in the book.  Students will do a collaborative poem with the artwork.  They will then work in pairs to analyze lines of text and draw similarities/differences between the character in the text and the girl in the painting.  



A Just Society

This collection, first of all, is a work in progress and may change as time goes on. The collection includes pieces that are meant to prompt students to think how to create a "just society" and potential consequences when those ideals don't become reality. #SAAMteach

Nikysha (Nikki) Gilliam

A House Divided: Photography in the Civil War

How does photography of the Civil War inform us about this period? This teaching collection includes the lesson plan, A House Divided: Photography of the Civil War, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Students examine Civil War photographs, write captions, and discuss how viewing photographs enhances your understanding of historical events and concepts.
Stephanie Norby

A Hero's Journey

in progress

This collection is designed to be used across several days in conjunction with any study of literary heroes. The last page includes a description of how I plan to use the collection with a group of 6th graders studying The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

Alison Gillmeister

A Golden Destiny: Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion

This collection explores Leutze's Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way in connection to westward expansion, Lundeberg's Pioneers of the West, and Whitman's poem "Pioneers! O Pioneers!".

Lauren Chavey

A Glimpse into Early American Farming

This collection features colonial American farms, farming implements, and farm-related items to examine facets of agricultural life in early America. The origin, use, and preservation of these items in some cases allows us to discover where colonists procured their instruments, why and how they used them, and where, in addition to the layout of a farm landscape and who interacted with it. Agriculture provided settlers with a means to survive, whether they resided in Massachusetts or Virginia; production of food from within a settlement was key to colonial survival, and ultimately allowed colonies to progress. While early New England colonists grew crops enough for trade and subsistence, agriculture boomed in the South, and the majority of pieces in this collection are from the South. Fertile Virginia soils birthed the economy-shaping tobacco industry and formed subsequent socioeconomic developments of farm culture, including the institution of slavery and the wealthy planter class. Diving into the everyday tools, settings, and situations that early Americans used and encountered provides fascinating access into the small pieces that ultimately created thriving colonies—those often overlooked and seemingly menial. I believe that acknowledging the agricultural means by which early Americans survived is critical to a well-rounded appreciation of their context!

Please enjoy this collection and its reflection of the hard work of early colonists and their labor forces.

Lee Butcher

A Doll's House Project

Lauren Chelena, Julia Coan

Lauren Chelena

A Difficult December

Postal officials were determined to create regular airmail service between New York and Chicago. Eddie Gardner had made a death-defying trip from Chicago to New York to prove that it was possible to fly the mail between the two cities in one day. But that had been a stunt, not an organized system to support flights six days a week between the two cities. Now Praeger wanted to set up regular flights along that 750-mile route at a time when the planes he was using had a range of 280 miles.

Praeger had had the army's help in setting up the route between Washington, Philadelphia and New York, and while the Post Office was now successfully maintaining that system, it was a far cry from the work needed to get airmail from New York to Chicago on a regular basis. Congress continued to question the necessity of an airmail service. Praeger decided he would win them over by expanding the service and announced the New York - Chicago airmail route would open on December 15, 1918. By the end of the month Praeger would realize he had bitten off more than he could chew.

Tags: Praeger, Miller, New York, Chicago, Bellefonte, Cleveland, Bryan, Curtiss, deHavilland, Burleson, Lipsner, Connor, Jordan, Edgerton, Biffle, E. Hamilton Lee, Leon Smith, strike,  De Hart, Doty, Eversole, Lamb, airmail

Nancy Pope

A Day in the Life of a 18th Century American Child

This collection serves to show how average children lived in the 18th and early 19th century. Children lived quite differently than kids do today. As infants, mothers tried their best to keep their children safe, but their child care methods were unconventional and sometimes unnecessary due to the lack of information available to them about child development. Families often had many children to counteract the high infant mortality rate of the time. In many cases, a parent would die young as well, leaving widows with no choice other than to give their kids up for adoption and hope that a wealthy family will take good care of their child. Growing up, there was a clear divide between girls and boys and their path in life. Both sexes were educated, but boys had the opportunity to learn more, while the goal for a girl was to be taught how to become a good wife. The strict culture prevented much free time for playing games and simply being a kid. Religion played a role in how children were raised and behaved. Rules and discipline kept them in line from as young as when they learned to walk. Each piece in this collection will further illustrate the contrast between colonial and modern day childhood.

Jennifer Carroll

A Culture of Presence

How are members of Asian Pacific American communities making contact not only with those within their communities but with those around them? How have they forged spaces for interaction and connection? For this collection, I looked for resources that represented contact among Asian Pacific American individuals, groups, and communities.

Aira Matin
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