Skip to Content
  • Language
  • End User
  • Educational Use
  • Time Required

Found 1,204 Collections


Engineering Flight

This is a master collection designed to be copied and adapted to your individual classroom needs. Included are three scalable student activities that teach students engineering skills using methods similar to those that made the Wright brothers pioneers of aviation. Feel free to pick and choose from the activities in creating your own collections:

1. The Four Forces of Flight

In this student activity, students will briefly go over the four forces of flight (lift, drag, weight, and thrust) and put them to the test in the Paper Airplane Challenge! This activity is suitable for Primary/Intermediate grade levels.

2. Engineering the Wright Way

The second student activity is an online interactive, "Engineering the Wright Way"*, where students will develop engineering skills to design and test all the different components of an airplane based on the the Wrights' methodology. Students can write down a save code generated in the interactive to store their progress and return to finish the activity later. This activity is suitable for Intermediate/Middle grade levels.

3. Take a Wright Flight

The third student activity is an online flight simulator to learn three controls of flight: yaw, pitch, and roll. The final segment is an online interactive** to test fly the original Wright Flyer in conditions similar to that cold December morning when the Wrights first achieved flight, using direct 3D scans of the original Wright Flyer made by the Smithsonian. This activity is suitable for all grades.

*The "Engineering the Wright Way" lesson plan and activity were created by the National Air and Space Museum, courtesy of the Alcoa Foundation.

**The Wright Brothers Flyer activity was created by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

This is one of 5 activities used in the Lenovo Week of Service event.

Cody Coltharp

Weapons of World War I

Leah Knecht

Taxing Revolution

This collection presents the importance of the tax on tea and other items during the American Revolution. Britain is known for having tea, and is used in daily lifestyles of the people in Britain and America. After the war the British placed taxes on everything such as sugar, glass, paper, and tea. Riots, boycotts, and protest occurred one after another.  American people did not appreciate the extra money they had to pay for the items they use for daily activities, so they decided to stand up for themselves and go against the British to become an independent nation.  The taxes brought the people together as a community against the government. 

This collection focuses on the role taxed tea plays in during the American revolution. It contains documents, pictures, and items about the cause and effect of the war and the Townshend act. There are also famous cartoons included that exaggerated the relationship between the British and Americans. War led to the American having debt which led to the British taxing the colonist. They taxed on stamps, sugar, glass, paper, and most importantly, tea. All these taxes angered the colonist, so The British removed some, but still continued to place taxes on the people. The taxing led to a war for independence because the American people were just tired of the British control. They wanted to become a new independent Country and the people wished for their freedom. They would do anything to remove the tax on their items even if it means rioting. The people of America started to come together as a nation and brutally start to fight for their freedom. 

Sandy Kenny

Learning Lab Teaching Collection for Frost Art Museum Workshop using Luis Cruz Azaceta's "Shifting States: Iraq"

This teaching collection is designed to be used in the Frost Art Museum's "Exploring Latinx Artists from the Frost Art Museum Collection" workshop on November 6, 2018, to guide participants in a looking activity and to demonstrate the range of tools available in the Learning Lab. 

It is adapted from a teaching collection on the same theme (Luis Cruz Azaceta's "Shifting States: Iraq" , which aims to help students think critically and globally using two Thinking Routines to explore the painting. The work is a metaphorical representation of the unrest taking place in Iraq, and more broadly, an exploration of the human condition during times of crisis.

Included here are an image of the work from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, an explanatory video with curator E. Carmen Ramos, a contextual video featuring the artist himself, three suggested Thinking Routines - "Colors, Shapes, Lines," "The 3 Y's," and "Headlines" - from Harvard's Project Zero Artful Thinking and Global Thinking materials, three other works by Azaceta in the Smithsonian collections, and an array of prompts and Learning Lab tools.

For use in Social Studies, Spanish, English, American History, Art History classes

This program received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.


Philippa Rappoport

World War II Aircraft

The aircraft made it's war debut in World War I, but in World War II both aircraft and aviators demonstrated the importance of air power superiority. The success or failure of numerous conflicts was heavily dependent on the conflict in the air. The battle to manufacture aircraft as quickly as they were being shot out of the air was also an important portion of the war.  Bombers had expanded ranges, while fighters who protected them often could travel shorter distances making airfields some of the most valuable territory in the war. The cargo plane was also introduced allowing militaries to transport troops and supplies much quicker, which clearly impacted the war. The Battle of Britain was fought solely with aircraft as the Germans and British played an airborne chess match. Each power was also racing to release the jet fighter which would almost certainly ensure that country would rule the skies. With all of this, the aircraft proved to be one of the most valuable resources of the war, providing both cover fire for infantryman, rapid movement of supplies, and bombing important targets.  

Ned Johnson

Media, Color, & Identity: George Gershwin as a Lens to Uncover Individual Identity

Inquiry Description

Throughout history, people have represented themselves and others through media (e.g. paintings, film, photos, song, social media, etc.). Artists and individuals make conscious and unconscious choices about how to represent a person using media and color. These representations are open to individual interpretation.

In this inquiry, students  develop awareness of different perceptions and expressive qualities of color through an examination of historical sources. The first formative task entails a student exploration of the attributes of color through the "Interpreting & Communicating Color" task using paint color samples. Students then apply this understanding while analyzing portraiture and various other media through the lens of how artists represent a songwriter, George Gershwin. The second formative task involves students discussing and supporting claims about how Gershwin is represented in a text, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, and in his music and a portrait. Students then write and support claims about how Gershwin is represented in various media forms in the third formative task. The lesson concludes with a summative task during which students determine the best colors and media to represent their own identity within the creation of a self-portrait.

The 2017 NCSS Notable Trade Book, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, is intriguing because the illustrator chose to represent Gershwin in shades of blue. This text is ripe for color analysis. This Gershwin biography provides background knowledge about Gershwin's personality, thus acting as a resource that students may use to develop claims about artist's color choices as representations of Gershwin's identity. After acquiring knowledge of Gershwin's personality traits, students apply perceptions about the expressive qualities of color to various media (portraits, sculpture, photo, etc.). Many of these historical sources are from the National Portrait Gallery, a Smithsonian Institution museum, and represent treasured elements of our national history.

This inquiry will consist of four class periods [approximately].


Structure of the Inquiry

NCSS's Theme 4 Individual Development and Identity and the C3 Framework (i.e. D2.His.6.3-5.) expect that students investigate how individual perceptions effect how people are represented throughout history. Throughout the formative tasks, students gradually build skills needed to interpret and communicate about artists' color and media representations of people as well as individual perceptions about color usage within artistic works. Students interpret several portraits, namely, Wormley's 1936 George Gershwin; Auerbach's 1926 Gershwin at the Piano; and a 1934 Gershwin self-portrait. Additionally, students examine other forms of portraiture: Noguchi's 1929 Gershwin sculpture and a 1936 Gershwin photo. After examining these historical sources, students make a determination as to which historical source best represents George Gershwin and provides evidence as to why it is the best representation of Gershwin.

Students are expected to develop their personal identity as related to their time and place in society as stated in NCSS Theme 4 Individual Development and Identity. In the summative task, students apply these understandings to create a new historical source, a self-portrait, by making intentional choices about how to represent themselves through color within media.  

Inquiry Questions for the Lesson:

Compelling Question: What factors influence how individuals are perceived by others and themselves?

Supporting Question: What are the attributes of  color?

Supporting Question: How do media and color effect one's representation of identity?

Supporting Question: How are media and color used to represent George Gershwin's identity?

Supporting Question: What do media and color reveal about you?

These NCSS C3 Framework History Standards are the basis for the lesson content:

D2.His.10.3-5 Compare information provided by different historical sources about the past.

D2.His.13.3-5. Use information about a historical source, including the maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose to judge the extent to which the source is useful for studying a particular topic.

Angel Bestwick

The Five Pillars of Islam

This collection includes artifacts and images that represent the Five Pillars of Islam. Students should complete the chart (included as the final resource) by first explaining what each pillar is. Then, after looking through the collection, they should identify an artifact that represents each one and explain why.

Tags: Islam, Muslim, religion, Muhammad, object analysis, practice, pilgrimage, hajj, fasting, Ramadan, Shahadah, zakat, tithe, salat, prayer

Jeffrey Theil

Mochi Barrel - Japanese Cultural Traditions in Cleveland

This collection begins with one object from the collections of the Cleveland History Center - a usu, or stamp mill, that is used to make mochi, a type of Japanese rice cake.  Building from that one object, this collection also explores the history of the family who owned and used this item, the cultural traditions associated with the mochi-making ceremony that the family maintained years after their arrival in the United States, and how the Japanese-American population in Cleveland grew considerably during and after World War II.  


Mary Manning

Terracotta Warriors & Figures: Object Analysis

In this activity, students will use visual evidence to try guess the roles of figures found in the elaborate tomb complex of China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE), and analyze what they may reveal about his values, how he saw himself, and how he saw his world.  

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles and contains over 7,000 terracotta figures, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Keywords: archaeology, archaeologist, ancient history, artifact, afterlife, funerary practices, burial, death, spiritual beliefs, military, soldier, sculpture, chinese, world, asia, asian, xi'an, empire, cross-cultural comparison, terra cotta, qin shi huang, shihuangdi, shi huang di, earthenware, ceramics, pottery, terracotta army

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Terracotta Army

Perpetrating the Holocaust: Gaining an Understanding through Archives

This activity uses a restitution document and graphic organizer to help students understand who perpetrated the actions of the Holocaust, particularly as it affected the Weikers family. The Weikers family papers are held in the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. The archive document comes from the Weikers Family  collection, and the accompanying graphic organizers were created by Heinz History Center education staff. More images and documents connected with this family story are available on the Generation to Generation: Family Stories Drawn from the Rauh Jewish Archives website. 


Student Activities | Exploring Point of View

How do you see the world? What's your point of view? What informs, shapes, and affects it? What does it mean to take on another person's point of view, and why is it important? This Learning Lab activity for students explores global issues, perspectives, and close looking through two artworks by Ahmed Mater, a contemporary Saudi artist. In addition to the two artworks, this collection also includes guiding questions, the gallery guide for the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibition "Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater," and an optional article for high-school students.

Tag: Middle East, Near East, Saudi Arabia, Mecca, Urbanization, Project Zero, Asia Society, See Think Wonder, 3 Ys, point of view

Freer|Sackler Education

Teaching Resources | Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater

How do you see the world? What’s your point of view? What informs, shapes, and affects it? What does it mean to take on another person’s point of view, and why is it important? This teaching collection features two artworks from the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery by Ahmed Mater, a contemporary Saudi artist. Use this collection to introduce global competency and close looking in the classroom.

In addition to teaching strategies and two artworks by Ahmed Mater, this collection also includes: an article on global thinking routines; a digital version of the book "Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World;" the gallery guide to the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery exhibition "Symbolic Cities, the Work of Ahmed Mater;" an article about Ahmed Mater's "Symbolic Cities" exhibition; and a link to a Learning Lab student activities set using the strategies and resources compiled here.

This collection was created to support the 2016 CCSSO Teachers of the Year Day at the Smithsonian.

Tag: Middle East, Near East, Saudi Arabia, Mecca, Urbanization, Project Zero, Asia Society, See Think Wonder, 3 Ys
Freer|Sackler Education

Art and Science Intersections at the Freer|Sackler

This Learning Lab was designed by the Education Department of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery as a basic introduction for educators to the intersections of art and science.  Each image links to resources,  which include Freer|Sackler works of art, exhibition information, 3-D tours, videos, online interactives, and articles.  Feel free to copy the collection and adapt it for your students.

Keywords: Buddha, Buddhism, lacquer, stone, bronze, carving, conservation, technology, China, bells, music, sound, Resound, 3-D, STEM, STEAM, Metropolitan Museum, Walters Art Museum, Smithsonian, arts, science 

Freer|Sackler Education

An Introduction to Japanese Painting

This collection was designed by the Education Department of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery as a basic introduction to Japanese painting for educators. It is a collection of artworks from the museum's permanent collection that draw from a wide variety of formats, styles, media, and subjects that represent many of the major trends in Japanese painting. Each image includes key information about the artwork, as well as ideas for class discussion, lesson components, and/or links to resources such as videos and articles which provide additional information about the artwork. Feel free to copy the collection and adapt it to your own use. 

Keywords: Buddha, Hokusai, Mount Fuji, watercolor, bodhisattva, Fugen, Sōtatsu, cherry blossoms, seasons, Genji, crane, emakibyobukakemono, ukiyo-e, map, teacher, student, autumn, Japan, Japanese art, landscape, Edo period, Buddhism, Heian period, water, ocean, wave, boat, flower, insect, Muromachi period, river, surimono

Freer|Sackler Education

Timeline of Ancient China (5000 BCE - 220 CE)

This collection contains an interactive timeline of the art and archaeology of Ancient China from about 5000 BCE to 220 CE. It includes information on each period in this time range: Late Neolithic period, Erlitou culture, Shang dynasty, Western Zhou dynasty, Eastern Zhou dynasty, Qin dynasty, and Han dynasty; each with a representative object from each time period, ranging from a jade cong to a bronze incense burner.

Authors of this collection are the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Tags: art history; artifact; archaeologist; ritual; Chinese; asia; Asian; warring states period; terracotta army; terra cotta;

Freer|Sackler Education

What Will You Stand For? Video Resources

Throughout American History, young people have led, influenced, and defined the outcomes of our elections and politics. By organizing, lobbying, advocating, protesting, and voting, young voices supply our democracy with a never-ending source of fresh ideas, concerns, and hopes. This tradition continues today, as voters ages 18 to 24 make up the biggest potential voting bloc in modern elections.

This Learning Lab collection can be used in conjunction with a short video that challenges young people to reflect on and discuss “What will you stand for?” Find the video and additional resources here:

This video is part of a series of short films from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that looks at how young people have historically shaped public opinion and outcomes. These brief videos help young people learn from the civic actions of youth in the past to become thoughtful, informed, and active participants in their democracy today. Through historical stories of youth engaged in our elections and politics, these videos show how youth have made history through civic action and challenge today’s young people to continue shaping their democracy. 

NMAH Education

Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Investigating artworks in SAAMs collection and others which relate to Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings

Marin Layne Williams

Ancient Japan

Images of and relating to Ancient Japan 

Marin Layne Williams

Ancient Rome

Images of and relating to Ancient Rome 

Marin Layne Williams

Ancient Greece

Images of and relating to Ancient Greece

Marin Layne Williams

Ancient China

Images of and related to Ancient China 

Marin Layne Williams

AP Human Geography

The images in this collection were inspired by the curriculum standards for AP Human Geography. 

Marin Layne Williams

Educating for Global Competence with Contemporary Asian Art

What is global competence?  What are the skills and dispositions of globally competent students?  What role can art play in educating students for global competence?  Teachers can use this Learning Lab Collection as a resource for students to explore themes of global importance in the arts of Asia.  The Collection features two works of contemporary Asian art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with several tools for students to examine and reflect about the works of art, such as Visible Thinking Routines,  Artful Thinking Routines, or Global Thinking Routines.  For each routine, the rationale and  process is described to help the teacher practice.  The Collection also includes artist interviews and other contextual information about the works of art for teachers and students to deepen their understanding.

This Learning Lab Collection was created to support the The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) National Teachers of the Year 2018 program.  CCSSO is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, the Bureau of Indian Education and the five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions.  Learn more at

Essential Questions to be addressed by this Learning Lab Collection:

  • What are some practical tools teachers can use to look closely and reflect about works of art?
  • How can we use works of art to prepare students to understand the world and participate in it?
  • How do we define global competence and globally competent students?


Tags:  #AsiaTeachers; Asian; Asia; Freer|Sackler; Project Zero; Global Competence; Global Competency; Visible Thinking; Artful Thinking; Chalk Talk; See-Think-Wonder; 3Ys; 3-2-1 Bridge; Contemporary Asian Art; China; India; Monkeys; Religion; Architecture; Chinese Cultural Revolution; Xu Bing; Terminal; Subodh Gupta; Sculpture; Lacquer; Wood; Brass 

Freer|Sackler Education
97-120 of 1,204 Collections