Middle School (grades 5-8) STEAM teachers with an interest in expanding their practice to include informal education techniques. You may apply with colleagues from your school or district as a team. Teams can be no larger than three teachers. Efforts will be made to enroll a cohort who represents a diverse set of school types, geographic regions, teaching environments, and experiences.
Participants will grapple with the idea of “authentic learning.” A major buzz phrase in the formal and informal education communities, authentic learning is a broad construct that could be defined in different ways by different educators. At its root, the authentic learning movement seeks to involve real-world problems, use open-ended inquiry, and engage students in social learning. The cohort will work to define the term as it relates to their practice and design content around it as they progress through the program.
Through hands-on activities, museum tours, visits to other museums, group work, and expertise from museum educators and content experts, teachers will use aerospace science, history, and technology to shape their ideas about authentic learning and bring informal education techniques into their classrooms.
Teachers will propose an independent project to be completed over the two weeks. The project must be substantial (a unit plan, after school club, project for students, etc.) and centered around aerospace or content from the National Air and Space Museum.
- There is no cost for teachers to participate. Teachers are provided with lodging, food, and travel (to and within DC).
- During the institute, teachers will be given VIP museum experiences and access to content experts in both informal education and aerospace content.
- Participants will also have opportunities to connect with your cohort and museum staff several times during the school year.
- Commit to two weeks each summer for two summers.
- Propose an independent project and see it through to completion. Present the project to fellow Institute participants and Smithsonian staff. Participants will use approximately one quarter of their time working on projects independently.
- Actively participate in sessions led by Smithsonian Institution staff and guests on the marriage of informal and formal learning.
- Assist in the evaluation of and iteration upon current educational programming at the National Air and Space Museum.