Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hooray for Play!

maria mortati Our very own Justine Roberts brought this to my attention: Monday's New York Times published an article about the positive impact play time has on kids and the study that supports it. Read it, it's good, short, and informative. Basically, a collaborative group of researchers took 11,000 children between ages 8 and 9, and gave some recess, and others none. They found that the kids who had recess had better classroom performance than the kids without. Straight from the study's mouth:
"CONCLUSIONS. These results indicated that, among 8- to 9-year-old children, having > 1 daily recess period of >15 minutes in length was associated with better teacher's rating of class behavior scores. This study suggests that schoolchildren in this age group should be provided with daily recess." Source:
This is supportive data for our informal learning institutions, and builds on something that we've been preaching and practicing here at Gyroscope. One of the people noted in the article, Dr. Stuart Brown,is the founder of the National Institute of Play. They are gathering research from a diverse band of play scientists and:
" ... initiating projects to expand the clinical scientific knowledge of human play and translating this emerging body of knowledge into programs and resources which deliver the transformative power of play to all segments of society." Source:
Their board includes the likes of Jane Goodall, folks from IDEO, the Jonas Salk Foundation, and so on. No museum folks... Anyway, according to Ms. Parker Pope, Brown considers play:
“a fundamental biological process.” “From my viewpoint, it’s a major public health issue,” he said. “Teachers feel like they’re under huge pressures to get academic excellence to the exclusion of having much fun in the classroom. But playful learning leads to better academic success than the skills-and-drills approach.”
That fits nicely with my personal experience: I remember things best when I'm having fun. Thanks, Justine!

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Museum Advocacy Day!

maria mortati I've posted quite a bit on this topic already. I'll just point you to a place where you can do some e-advocacy, and say yippee for my favorite institution: museums!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quick Post: Real-Time Animal Tracking Site

museums, science, TOPP, maria mortati I may be late to this game, but I just came across this site that might be of interest to science centers, anthropology museums, zoos, and aquaria. It's called TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Predators), and it offers a free live animal tracking widget which might be a nice add-on for your web site. There's a write up about it on the Stanford News site. Check it out. Oh, and if you've wondered what some of those tags might look like, check out this picture from the good folks at KQED's Quest TV show. They did a story on TOPP last year. What can I say, but better late than... museums, science, TOPP

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Local Magazine as a Model for a (great) Sustainability Exhibit?

museums, maria mortati On a recent trip to Colorado, I came across a local, annual publication that piqued my interest. It's called the Great Ecstatic Reporter, and it's produced by a bookstore/publishing non-profit out of Fort Collins- Wolverine Farms. Why do I think it's a good model for an exhibit on Sustainability? Let me count the ways... A clear invitation to participate, with help provided. Sustainability is, after all, about all of us participating. The Letter from the Editors functions not only as an introduction to the issue, but also as an invitation to contribute. The part I like is that they offer help (which I'd gladly take advantage of) for submissions. So from page 1 they are inviting YOU to contribute: maria mortati They reinforce ownership/participation with a light touch. They include an Ex Libris page- a nice touch for a free, black and white newspaper piece. I like the invite and the dichotomy. museums, maria mortati They talk about things of global import, through local color. This article below highlighted a local company that's developing solar power technology (click on it to read it). Another article talked about the author's visit to Amory Lovin's home- from his point of view. museums, maria mortati They walk the walk. They also pepper the magazine with "save" and "no expiration date" commentary, while using sustainable printing practices. Think the next issue will be on-line and in print. museums They cover the bases. Take a look at their table of contents. It reads like an exhibit plan. At least, an exhibit I'd like to see (you may have to click on the image to see it larger): museums, maria mortati They include a call to action. In most articles, they include a call to action. Web sites, what you can do, invitations to participate, a variety of local resources to get involved with... the list goes on. museums, maria mortati They fully harness the nuanced power of design. As you can see from the images I've scanned above, they use the format of large image/ personal article to get and keep your attention. They utilize varied typefaces to further that aim. Most are along the lines of handwritten/scrawl to make it feel like "I can do this". It also gives it that handmade feel we're all so hungry for in our digital universe. Finally, I spoke briefly with the editor, Tod Simmons. He said that they are a 501c3 and were a recipient of a grant for the printing of last year's GER by New Belgium Brewery (a local brewing company that has deep philosophical and philanthropic roots). He said that they are always looking for different book or product reviews, local people or organizations, or "for shorter philosophical inquiries that look at living sustainably through a different lens". Love the result. Now I want to make an exhibit on it. Thanks, GER!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thanks.. and there's more

advocacy, AAM, museums, maria mortati Great job, museum community! You got the word museum taken out of the budget exclusions paragraph I've been griping about (along with many others). Just now we have to get aquariums and zoos off the same footing as golf courses and swimming pools, and we'll be in saner territory (for the moment,anyway). Click here to take action, and... thank you!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pick up the keyboard instead...

museums, advocacy, AAM, maria mortati Just a follow-up to my last posting about the Colburn Amendment-- a sneaky amendment designed to get folks upset about pork barreling hot tubs and golf courses with museums sandwiched in between. Sadly, it passed. 73-24. Pretty smooth move on Colburn's part. But there is still hope, and time for you to do something!!
"Differences between the House and Senate versions of the economic stimulus legislation will have to be resolved in a House-Senate conference committee before the bill is submitted to the President." - From the AAM
If you work in a museum, you can write a letter or call your senator and let them know how you feel. Ford Bell at the AAM is asking museums to fill out an Economic Impact Statement and send it to congress. Fill one out and send it today- let's not let this move make it to the president's desk.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Many of us have been hearing about layoffs worldwide- and museums have their heads on the block. The US Senate said yesterday, that they will support keeping the Park Service a Historic Trusts, but museums, zoos, aquaria are still being targeted today and tomorrow:
"Museums are still at risk from the additional amendment being offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, which could occur on Thursday or Friday of this week. Amendment No. 175, as filed, says: 'None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, [snip of obvious stuff like dry heat saunas, sorry for you fanatics] community park, museum, theater, arts center'" - from the AAM
If you want to do something about this and you're in the US, PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY:

Capitol Switch board: (202) 224-3121

Urge them to oppose any amendment that would prohibit museums, zoos and aquaria from receiving funding, including the Colburn Limitation of Funds Amendment #175. Here are 2 simple talking points from the AAM:
"Please vote "no" on the Coburn amendment (No. 175 to H.R. 1) which would ban stimulus funding for cultural institutions"

"Museums employ more than a quarter-million Americans, spend an estimated $14.5 billion annually, and rank among the top three family vacation destinations. In fact, visitors to cultural and heritage destinations stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists."
If you want to know or do more, go to the AAM Advocay Pages. Thanks from those of us who want to keep the "now" in Museums Now.