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published: March 2004
White Gloves and the Web: Collections in the Classroom
By inviting teachers to put on white gloves and step inside the collections, the online exhibition and interpretation process becomes most meaningful for education. Museum professionals have ideas about how teachers want to use primary objects in their classroom practice, but the reality often departs from the expectation. Involving in-service educators in the process maximizes the impact of the effort.
Practicing teachers have helped The Franklin Institute Online develop an educational context for two- and three-dimensional objects from its collection of historical science artifacts. Currently, a new initiative is underway, motivated by teachers' expressed needs to personalize the historical objects. The Franklin Institute Awards program assembles case files for every nominee. To date, over two thousand case files have been created and preserved. Each case file represents a microcosmic portrait of scientific achievement.
Teachers are supporting the digitization prioritization process, helping to identify the cases that have strongest value for classroom usage and connections to standards-based curriculum. The list of possibilities includes most every noteworthy scientist of the past 175 years including Marie Curie, Alexander Graham Bell, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Thomas Alva Edison. Each case file includes letters, journals, diagrams, drawings, and a concise account of a life spent in service to scientific achievement.