After field trips to three different museums, students create a short 90 second podcast in which they discuss one object encountered. Through this project, students engage with primary artifacts and practice their communication skills.
Introduction: During a three-week period in this history of science class, students engage with primary sources on class trips to several libraries, museums, and collections on campus. Through their guided exploration of these texts, students engage with and get excited about course material. The assessment for this unit of the course (10% of their final grade) is a short podcast in which students describe one object they observed on the in-class visits. This podcast activity encourages students to practice their communication skills as they must describe the appearance of a physical object orally. Additionally, they must describe the importance and context of the item.
- Read and analyze primary sources of medieval and early modern science
- Appropriately handle documents/artifacts from the early modern period
- Describe a physical object using only auditory techniques
- Tell an engaging story about a historical object
Procedure - Before Class: This activity requires a lot of preparation, but the final podcasts produced are a pleasure to listen to. Additionally, students take great pride in and ownership of their final work.
Before the museum visits, the instructor selected several artifacts for the students to observe in consultation with librarians and museum staff. The selected objects were chosen to encourage comparisons across texts. Additionally, the instructor created worksheets to help students have focused interactions with the texts. She also gave the students a presentation on how to safely handle books in special collection libraries so that they would be prepared to interact safely with material at each location.
Procedure – During Class: Prior to the podcast assignment, students had visited three collections and interacted with many texts from the medieval and early modern periods.
During each museum visit, students were given a few minutes of individual or paired exploration. Then they broke into small groups to work through the worksheet activities (see materials below). Through these activities, students practiced presenting aspects of objects in small groups. Finally, the class came back together for a group discussion.
Additionally, students attended lectures and participated in group discussions about the context of science and medicine so they had content expertise.
Procedure – Outside of Class Group Gathering: The instructor held an evening hackathon in which she had Bok center staff teach students how to use audio recording equipment and editing software. Additionally, the hackathon ensured each student had access to the necessary recording and editing equipment. The hackathon session started with instructions presented to the entire group on how to record and edit a podcast. Then, students paired up and read each other’s podcast scripts offering feedback. Following this peer feedback, students were given the opportunity to record and edit their podcast.
Procedure – After Class: On their own, students also had to create a 2-3 paragraph artist’s statement detailing their choice of object, narrative style, and editing choices. Since the podcasts were fairly short, this reflective piece allowed students to expand on the choices they made about content and delivery.
1) Museum Visit 1 Worksheet: Museum_Case_Activity.dox
2) Museum Visit 2 Worksheet: InventingScience.pdf
3) Museum Visit 3 Worksheet: Countway_Visit.dox
4) Podcast Assignment and Rubric: LIBRARY_PODCAST_ASSIGNMENT.dox