JMM Insights: February 2014

Posted on February 21st, 2014 by

When life leaves you in a pickle…  make a battery???

Pickle_logo4Last fall, Marvin asked the staff to think about different scenarios for the Feldman Gallery once Project Mah Jongg leaves the JMM at the end of June 2014.  The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen would not be finished until September and it did not seem like a good idea to leave an empty gallery for nearly three months.   We’ve been enjoying a steady increase in the Museum’s attendance and we did not want to lose momentum.  What could the JMM do in that space that would be fun, inexpensive and engage visitors during the summer months? During our brainstorming session, we discussed the increasing emphasis on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and we came up with the idea of hosting a Technology Fair.  Our staff liked the idea that innovation and creativity would once again be highlighted in historic Jonestown, where many immigrants got their start as innovators on Lombard Street and the surrounding neighborhood.

I have to be honest.  Initially, I was a bit skeptical about the idea. I am not a “science person” and I remember struggling through my physical and natural science classes at university.  I am not a MAVEN about anything technological and Marvin asked me to spearhead this project!   I am pleased to say that what has happened over the past few months has been magical, informative and lots of fun.  We have been meeting people from throughout our community who are passionate about technology and science, and are excited about involving many people in project planning.

What has evolved from our initial brainstorming sessions has become a unique visitor experience. The Electrified Pickle is designed to appeal to budding scientists, DIY-ers and anyone curious to learn about how things work and Jewish innovations in the fields of arts and science.  With the help from our partner, The National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, MD, our Feldman Gallery will be transformed into a participatory lab-style environment. Visitors can discover the mystery behind scientific principles such as magnetism, electricity, solar power, and other fun and engaging interactive activities. The gallery will serve as a community gathering space where people can come to experiment, create, and learn from one another.

For five Sundays (beginning July 13), we will invite community members to come to the Museum and share their expertise and passion for specific fields such as engineering, crafts, robotics, electronics, and architecture with our visitors. Each Sunday will have a specific theme. Our kick-off  on Sunday, July 13th is Power This! with a wide range of activities and demonstrations related to batteries and electricity. Other Sunday themes are: Fly This!, Imagine This! Decode This! and Print This!  We will offer exciting hands-on demonstrations and workshops for people to try their hand at activities like robot building, 3D print imagery, barcoding with POS (point of sale) software and, of course, electrifying pickles (visitors can test which kinds of pickles – sour,  dill, sweet work best!)

The Feldman Gallery will  also include objects from our own  JMM collections, examples of technologies from the past that were vital to Jewish trades and home life but are no longer in use such as old sewing machines, kitchen implements, typewriters, and phonographs.  These items will be displayed in a way that visitors can make comparisons with newer technologies and gain insight into the process involved in scientific innovation.  The gallery experience will also include a community art project, in collaboration with a local artist that will evolve throughout the summer with the help of visitor engagement.

Be on the look- out for the cutest, little green gherkin complete with electrical adaptors letting you know that The Electrified Pickle is coming soon!

ileneThis month’s JMM Insights was written by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

 

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Why Resist a Good Story?

Posted on February 13th, 2014 by

I am such a sucker for a good story – and with Valentine’s Day looming ever so close, I wanted to share a little story that I heard yesterday while speaking to Lillian Reyes, a teacher who brought her 7th graders from Har Sinai Congregation to the JMM to learn about the life in Baltimore during the Civil War and the connection between Rabbi David Einhorn, Har Sinai Congregation and slavery.

I asked Lillian how the morning was going and she mentioned that she loved the Jewish Museum of Maryland and was very excited about bringing her class to the Museum- as the JMM was where she met her future husband.

Lillian, a recent transplant to Baltimore was single and was looking for fun things to do and places to meet other Jews.  She had previously been to “Late Night on Lloyd Street” events at the JMM and a friend suggested attending a B’nai Israel young adult program “Pizza in the Hut” during Sukkot (September) 2013. Lillian met Marc Soloweszyk in the crowded room, hit it off right away and spent the entire night talking!

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

After a beautiful courtship during which they both realized how perfect they were for each other, Marc wanted to propose, but hadn’t figured out just the right place to do it. On December 27, Marc took Lillian for a surprise evening in downtown Baltimore and while walking down Lloyd Street, reminisced about the night they had met.  Suddenly, he was on one knee with a ring in his hand, asking Lillian to marry him. After briefly hyperventilating and a random “Congratulations!” shouted from a passing car, Lillian said “Yes!”. Marc put the ring on her finger and they stood in front of the entrance to the Jewish Museum/Bnai Israel and all of the sudden fireworks over the Inner Harbor, lit up the sky.

Lillian says, “It was a magical night and we both feel so blessed to have met each other. We already loved the exhibits and events at the JMM and now the museum has a whole new meaning for us! The wedding will be April 30, 2014, G-d willing, in Pikesville, MD.”

ilene A blog posy by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

 

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National History Day

Posted on January 15th, 2014 by

Typically every week, the education staff gets many requests to schedule school group visits to the Museum.  Over the past week, in addition to field trip requests, – we have had several requests from schools to participate as judges at the schools’ upcoming National History Day competitions.  Over the years we have been invited by schools to  participate, but I thought it was kind of unusual that in the past week, three separate schools have reached out to the JMM to be judges at their school’s National History Day competition.

nhd

http://www.nhd.org/ 

I wondered what would be involved – being a judge ….. it just sounds so OFFICIAL.

So, I did some investigating about National History Day.  National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.     National History Day makes history come alive for students by engaging them in the discovery of the historical, cultural and social experiences of the past.    NHD inspires students through exciting competitions and transforms teaching through project-based curriculum and instruction.  Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites.

Every year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The National History Day theme provides a focused way to increase student’s historical understanding by developing a lens to read history, an organizational structure that helps students place information in the correct context and finally, the ability to see connections over time. This year’s theme is Rights and Responsibilities in History.

In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, National History Day also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:

  • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • research and reading skills
  • oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • self esteem and confidence
  • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

As a judge, for National History Day, each judge will be given a rubric and some “interview questions” for each student. Each judge will be given a set amount of students to interview and judge based on the final project.

The National History Day program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park. This is where the best National History Day projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, International Schools and Department of Defense Schools in Europe all meet and compete. This year’s competition will be held on June 15 – 19. 

The education staff at the JMM is delighted to be asked by our partner schools to participate in such an exciting learning experience for area students.   It’s wonderful that history and social studies are being taught in our schools.  The fact that teachers bring their students to the JMM for field trip opportunities and attend professional development workshops only reinforces the importance of history museums in our community. It’s even more exciting that teachers view the Jewish Museum of Maryland as an important stakeholder in our community.

You can find out more about National History Day by visiting their website at http://www.nhd.org/ and more information about Maryland History Day here!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more post by Ilene, click here.

 

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