Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Museums that Educators Love: Mystic Seaport

            Are you looking for unique materials and sources to bring to your classroom? Do you want your students to use artifacts to explore history?   We are always on the lookout a great museum to connect to our classrooms. Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea is a museum where you can make a great classroom connection.

Why would an Educator want to visit Mystic Seaport?

Located in Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport tells the story of America and the Sea. The history of life in the United States is the tale of the relationship between man and the water. “If you or your ancestors traveled here anytime between the melting of the ice bridge and about 1960, you came by water,” John Boudreau, a member of the Museum’s Education Department said. “Put simply, the story of America is the story of America and the Sea. They’re inseparable.”

  Mystic Seaport uses a variety of experiences and programs to share its collection of more than a million artifacts with the public.  In Mystic, the history of America and the sea is an adventure.  Mystic Seaport has combined preservation, and unique experiences to share their collection with you.

How can you connect with Mystic Seaport?

            Mystic Seaports uses both traditional program and virtual programing to connect with the Educators. Traditional methods include visits, in-school programs and field trips is you are in the vicinity. 

Virtual programming includes a robust website with online collections and options for a virtual visit.  Mystic Seaport for Educators, is a dynamic and accessible website for Educators. Artifacts and documents, and maps have from the Museum’s collection have been digitized and enhanced with audio recordings, transcripts, and interactive features to create engaging opportunities for the study of history, making them appropriate resources for Educators to use themselves, or as a great base of primary sources for students The resources cover everything from whaling to immigration, and new content is added every year, making it an ever-expanding resource!

 The Museum also offers Virtual Education Programs, which are the next step in connecting with the collections at Mystic Seaport. The museum uses Skype and state-of-the-art technology in their own production studio to showcase artifacts in the collection and discuss what it means to be a curator with schools across the country, from Minnesota to the Northeast. “It’s a pretty incredible set-up,” Boudreau said. “We have a green screen and multiple cameras, which allows us to examine artifacts in detail with students. In a lot of cases, they can get closer to the artifacts with a virtual program than they could in person!”

   Virtual Education Programs can be tailored to fit your curriculum, and offer plenty of opportunities for working with primary sources, making abstract history suddenly very tangible. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about how and why museums preserve the past. For more information about the Virtual Education Programs, visit http://www.mysticseaport.org/learn/k-12-programs/virtual-programs .

What the Histocrats love about Mystic Seaport?

Mystic Seaport is an institution already making strong connections with Educators. The Mystic Seaport Education Community is a robust that includes educators, families and students. They have ongoing collaboration with educators that they openly share.  Community members are involved in Mystic Seaport projects. It is exciting to see collaboration among both groups.  The Mystic Seaport for Educators Summer Fellowship even allows educators to come work at the Museum for a week during the summer on a research project for the website. The Fellowship includes behind-the-scenes access to the Museum, an opportunity to work with artifacts first-hand, and even a field trip! (Email john.boudreau@mysticseaport.org for details.) This is a superb example of how museums and educators can support each other in engaging the public in the study of the past.

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