Game/Mobile Design internship at the AMNH (9/15 to 10/15)

(Mondays–9:30am to 4:00pm–and Wednesdays–9:30am to 5:00pm)

Total hours for this period (with holidays and sick days subtracted): 56


The vast majority of my time at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has been and will be devoted to a program conducted by the museum’s Education Department, entitled “The Neanderthal Next Door.”  The program describes itself as follows:

Overview:

The Neanderthal Next Door” is a new, 27-session youth program for 21 12th-graders designed to develop and implement a digitally augmented (augmented reality-enhanced) print activity guide that explores the topic of human evolution through the frame of Neanderthals. The guide will be used by visitors to the The Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins and the Hall of Human Origins (HHO). After the prototype for the guide is developed, eight of the participating youth will become interns who—working in pairs on weekends, twice a month—will facilitate the learning experience for museum visitors using the guide.

Educational Objectives of the Augmented Activity Guide:

People who participate in the guide will be able to:

  • increase their understanding of the topic of human evolution through the lens of Neanderthals, including:
    • evolutionary theory,
    • history of paleoanthropological discoveries
    • comparative skeletal anatomy,
    • comparative genomics
    • fossil discoveries, and
    • cultural artifacts,
    • appreciate how and why scientists collect data to understand the human evolutionary story, and
    • engage in a deeper level of inquiry with a museum exhibit.

Educational Objectives of the Youth Program:

In addition to the educational objectives of the activity guide, youth developing it in the after school program will also be able to:

  • understand general knowledge about key biological and cultural shifts throughout the evolution of our own species;
  • understand museum exhibits as dynamic learning environments;
  • co-design a hall-based educational experience;
  • think critically about what specific aspects of human evolution inspire the greatest curiosity among visitors;
  • contribute to the museum’s knowledge of how to integrate new digital tools into exhibit-based experiences that create new pathways for visitor engagement; and
  • expand their 21st Century Learning Skills, like collaboration, evidence-based thinking, and visualization;

For those youth participating in the internship, they will also be able to:

  • recruit museum visitors to engage with an augmented activity guide;
  • use an augmented activity guide to facilitate learning experiences; and
  • collect and interpret evaluation data on a prototype.

As the Game/Mobile Design intern, my primary role in the “Neanderthal Next Door” program is working on (or, rather, working with students as they work on) the augmented reality piece of the activity guide. (This piece will actually be developed, after prototyping and testing has happened with the smaller group of 12th-grade interns next term, by a company the Digital Learning department has worked with previously, Geomedia.) The primary person I have been and will be working with in this role is my supervisor, Barry Joseph, Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at AMNH. Barry’s bio from the Games for Change website reads, in part:

He has developed innovative programs in the areas of youth-led online dialogues, video games as a form of youth media, the application of social networks for social good, the educational potential of virtual worlds like Second Life, the educational application of mobile phones and alternative assessments models, and more, always seeking to combine youth development practices with the development of high profile digital media projects that develop 21st Century Skills and New Media Literacies. Barry speaks frequently around the country at conferences and leads professional development trainings for a wide variety of educational, civic and cultural institutions and published articles in a wide variety of publications. He is one of the co-founders of Games For Change.

The other staffer I have been and will be working more closely with is Hannah Jaris, a scientist and STEM educator by training, who is the Senior Coordinator for Digital Learning and Youth Initiatives. One of the things I’ve been able to learn more about with and from Hannah is curriculum design, which is something I need more training in.

Other duties for the internship so far have included some document processing (i.e. creating documents in/for the program’s shared Google Drive, formatting them, synching them with other documents, etc.) and the occasional task related to other Digital Learning projects Barry is currently working on.

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