SEA PEOPLES: A selection of ocean artifacts, photos, and video of an assortment of peoples around the world who make their living from the oceans.
SEA STORE: A sampling of the eye-opening everyday ways we use products or services of the ocean.
OCEANS IN PERIL: Threats to the oceans are profiled on five large buoys along with examples of what is being done to control or counteract these threats.
OCEAN HEROES: Photos and stories of people who are working to meet the challenges and threats to the oceans.
SEA SOURCES (OCEAN RESOURCE ROOM): Computers and written materials to learn more about oceans and what you can do.
Discuss with your students what a museum is.
Ask your students if any of them collects anything. What do they collect? Why? How long? Do they show off or display their collection? How is this like museums? Museums also collect. A museum is a place with collections, objects which have been gathered and preserved for the present and for the future, for research and display. Museums are places of learning -- for the public and for people doing research. In exhibits, objects are arranged to show off the object, communicate information, and tell a story about the objects and why they are important. "Exhibition" is the name for a whole section or hall devoted to a topic, "exhibit" refers to a particular display case or diorama (life scene). However exhibitions are also often referred to as "exhibits" or "shows." And, sometimes objects on display are called "exhibits." Alert students to the several meanings of the word "exhibit."
Each exhibition has a title in the largest letters and title or introductory label in somewhat smaller size letters, explaining the title and giving an overview of the exhibit. Text labels in smaller lettering may give more detailed information about the topic or story for each exhibit or display. And, each object in a case may have its own object or identification label with specific information about that particular object. To understand each exhibit or display, it is important to read the title and text label. To find out more about individual objects, read the identification labels.
Things on display are called exhibits, objects, artifacts, or specimens. Some objects are too fragile to put on display so very careful exact replicas, copies, or reproductions are made for display instead. When a replica is used, the label will generally indicate this. For objects that may be too large for display, small-sized or miniature replicas or models are used for exhibit. On the touch-its cart there is a model of an Eskimo boat and one from Senegal in West Africa.
The most common way to display or exhibit objects is in a case, a large box with a window. Window or wall cases are the most commonly used in natural history museums including ours. There are also free-standing cases which visitors may walk all around to view the objects from 360 degrees. Another type of display very characteristic of natural science and history museums is the diorama [DIE-oh-RAH-mah], a 3-dimensional life scene with a painted background. Life-size dioramas feature real specimens or objects -- the major exception are human figures which are not real but made from plaster, plastic, fiberglass, or wax. Miniature dioramas are small scale renderings of life scenes. Dioramas can be in wall cases or they can be open (no glass to protect the exhibits). We even have an open walk-through diorama in our new hall "Exploring Marine Ecosystems." Dioramas are both eye-catching as well as very informative since they show much more information than could be included in labels. They contain a view of the landscape, the plants, animals, and sometimes people that are part of the living environment of the featured specimen or figure. It is fun to look into the painted landscape to see what plants, animals, or humans are "hidden" there. Dioramas often represent an action or a story. (There are no dioramas in the Ocean Planet exhibition but other ocean related exhibits in the Museum do feature dioramas.)
After talking about what museums are and what they do, ask students why they think people go to museums. Why would they want to go to a museum? What would they want to see? People go to museums to learn something, to see real, genuine, authentic things -- things which they may have read about or seen in a book or film -- such as a genuine million year old stone tool, 80 million year old dinosaur bones, an actual Leonardo da Vinci painting, a real birchbark canoe, a contemporary ceremonial costume of the Seminole Indians, an insulated survival suit for people fishing in cold arctic waters, or the Declaration of Independence. People go to discover the stories about the objects and the stories the object tells. Many people in a museum, therefore, are looking, reading the labels, or listening to an audio or video segment, and they are comparing, thinking, and appreciating or marvelling. They do this alone, in groups, or on tours. These activities require relative calm to concentrate. This is one reason for museum etiquette.
Good museum manners allows everyone to get the most from their museum visit and protect the exhibits. Museum etiquette or manners include:
Ocean Planet is an excellent springboard to draw students into current issues about oceans and the ways they affect today's world and will influence the students' future and the future of the world. Current ocean-related issues include consumer topics, environmental issues (pollution, biodiversity, endangered species, food, overpopulation, fishing rights and ocean conservation, ecology) as well as economic, social, and political problems (scarce resources, energy, water resources, wealth and poverty, global economy, trans-national or multinational corporations and business, and international relations: conflict, cooperation, and accommodation), and preparing for the future (climate change, sustainable growth and development, indigenous subsistence and discovery rights, patents on life forms and processes, biotechnology and genetic engineering). These provide the opportunity for students to think about and research and examine the trends and issues that affect them and their families and communities so they can learn how to make informed decisions as individuals and as citizens. What they learn will help them take a hand in coping with today's issues and in helping to shape the future.
PRE-VISIT ACTIVITIES AND PLANNING: It is important for teachers to plan from the start the museum experience as an integral part of the curriculum. Plan so as to create ties between pre-visit lessons, the museum visit, and the lessons and activities that occur after the museum trip. Be sure to tell the students about the museum trip (and other outside trips or activities), and how the museum trip fits into their learning experience. Discuss what museums are, how to learn in a museum and how to behave (museum manners) as well as specifically what the students are expected to do as part of their museum experience. Indicate how follow-up activities will be based on their museum visit. What students learn about oceans and related topics through the in-class activities serve to whet their interest and curiosity for their trip to the exhibition. Some activities should directly link classroom work with the exhibition so students can make concrete connections with items in the exhibition. The museum visit can provide the basis for expressive material (essays, art work, etc.). If possible integrate ocean materials, lessons, and activities into a number of different subject areas so students will understand the many ways oceans influence our lives and earth itself and how we humans affect the oceans. Please look at the enclosed teacher's materials for specific pre-visit activities.
PLANNING THE MUSEUM VISIT:
Strategies for Student Work Assignments for Ocean Planet Visit:
Remember chaperons are an integral part of the trip. Familiarize them beforehand with the reason for the trip, the museum and exhibition to be visited, and give them the sheets on chaperons' responsibilities (see enclosed notice), and information about appropriate behavior for the museum trip (also enclosed). The job of the chaperon is to accompany their student group at all times and to help in maintaining an atmosphere for learning which includes appropriate student and chaperon behavior. Student groups found wandering without chaperons will be asked to leave the building. Stress to chaparones that student must do the projects themselves as part of their learning process.
It is all important that students and chaperons understand the museum trip is a learning experience, a field trip -- not a "field day."
THE MUSEUM TRIP: Have extra copies of the schedule or agenda including map, chaperon duties, and student work projects ready for the day of the trip. After boarding the bus, reiterate where the class is going, which exhibition they will see, what the students are expected to do, and why chaperons are accompanying the trip. You might recheck this by asking the students those same questions. Provide both students and chaperons a schedule of the activities and identify a place to meet when it is time to leave (usually the elephant in the first floor Rotunda). For emergencies, tell everyone to contact the nearest Security Officer or the Information Desk.
Carts: The objects on the carts are real, actual, objects. They are touchable but should not be handled roughly -- even the rocks from the sea floor can be damaged. These objects cannot be replaced. The biological and cultural specimens are fragile and should be handled with great care. Students should not grab specimens but allow the docents to offer them to be touched and listen to the information the specimens reveal. Of course students are encouraged to ask questions. Please note docents have been instructed not to answer questions that are part of the exhibition work sheets. Doing these on their own is the students' learning experience.
POST-VISIT ACTIVITIES:POST-VISIT ACTIVITIES: Follow up the museum visit with a "debriefing," a class discussion about the exhibition(s) and their projects. The best way for students to pay attention to the exhibition is to have them report back to the class to provide data from their work-sheets, to give impressions of the exhibition, or to create projects. Projects enhance further study and summarize class work on the topic. They can be individual, team, or class projects and can be presented to the class, parents, or to the whole school in programs or mini-exhibitions. Projects should allow students to process the ideas and information in their own terms, to pursue their own interests, and to present the ideas and impressions in ways compatible with their own modes of learning and expression. A class project or presentation of projects is a good way to reinforce learning and to strengthen the group feeling of the class. Through team or class projects students learn to work together for a larger goal and they get a sense of achievement and pride.
Exploring Marine Ecosystems Hall (Off Rotunda): Our newest exhibition about ecosystems in oceans features living model ecosystems of a Caribbean Coral Reef (a tropical system) and a Maine Rocky Shore (a North Atlantic subarctic system). Discover how marine ecosystems work and the way this information is used to create model ecosystems. What we learn from both natural and model systems expands our understanding of marine biology and helps us conserve healthy ecosystems. This knowledge can be used in helping to create new ways of dealing with environmental problems. If you follow the corridor down to end of hall, look up to the right to see a life-size replica of a blue whale, the largest animal on earth. You can follow this passage to the "Squid Exhibit" (see below).
Birds Hall (Rotunda entrance): "Penguins" diorama ("Birds of the Antarctic); across the hall "Characteristic Birds of the Oceans;" look up at ceiling for sea birds; at the end of the hall between this hall and Life In the Sea, see the Steller's sea eagle in "Giant Birds of Prey."
Life in the Sea (enter either from Exploring Marine Ecosystems or from end of the Birds Hall): Find out from "The Squid Exhibit" why these creatures are so fascinating and how much more fascinating they are when we start to understand them. Other animals featured in this section are northern sea mammals.
First Floor West Gallery (by Discovery Room) leading to restrooms and elevators: Photos of diverse marine forms, mostly invertebrates.
Dinosaurs Hall (enter from Rotunda): Entrance Vestibule: "Earliest Traces of Life" and all surrounding cases; also "The Grand Opening" gallery.
"Life in the Ancient Seas"(enter from Rotunda) Entire exhibition on the evolution of life in the seas.
Osteology Hall (enter from Rotunda Balcony): Mammals Section: Look up for Grey Whale, Steller Sea Cow, Dugong, and Manatee; Look in cases with the carnivora for seals, sea-lions, and otters. Birds Section: Feeding Adaptations of the Skull, Adaptive Radiation of Shore Birds, Semi-aquatic Birds, Underwater Swimmers, Aquatic Birds. Reptiles Section: Leather Back Turtle, Sea Turtles. Fishes Section: Entire section. Diorama: Galapagos Marine Iguanas.
Insect Zoo (enter from end of Osteology): "Mangrove Swamp" Case.
Second Floor West Gallery (At end of Western Cultures) Cases on "Economic Uses of Marine Algae."
Pacific Hall (enter from Rotunda): "Environment and Culture" case; (Polynesian) "Fishing." "Children of the Sea" (Polynesia); Micronesia: "Seafaring in Micronesia."
South America: "The Arid Coastlands."
Smithsonian Environment Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md.
Office of Education, MRC 158
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, D. C. 20560.
Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan
gene carl feldman (email@example.com) (301) 286-9428