As told by Molly Blackburn, Language Arts Teacher, Buffett Magnet Middle School and Laura Huntimer, Director of School Programs & Interactive Media, Joslyn Art Museum
MOLLY: Our service learning project, initially called “A Walk Through Time,” has been a blast! The idea of doing a service learning project came in March of 2012. I attended the Service Learning Academy Seminar held during spring break at UNO. During one of the conference sessions, I met with several potential partners from non-profit organizations. I ended up choosing Joslyn Art Museum because they were willing to work a full year and willing to incorporate student choice into the project. Our collaboration continued over the summer through email and phone calls.
LAURA: So have you ever thought what it would be like to work with 150 eighth grade students? Not me until I met Molly when she approached us about this service learning project for her students that would be a mix of art, technology, and communication. We were excited about this collaboration from the start!
MOLLY: At the beginning of the year, a UNO social work undergraduate came to help in my classroom by leading team-building activities. Students built towers, created logos, and overall became a more cohesive group.
LAURA: The students poured into the Museum in September to discover the artworks they would work with during the project.
MOLLY: They decided the museum was boring for teens because there was no way for that age group to interact with the art, and incorporating technology into the museum would increase interest and participation. They then set to create proposals of ideas that would address the lack of participation of that target group. They created speeches and posters in small groups, which they presented to a small Joslyn committee through the use of our school’s distance learning equipment.
LAURA: The first one knocked us off our seats! It was professional, thought provoking, creative, and clearly close to their heart. Yowza! The next 35 were incredible as well. [Side bar. As an art museum professional, hearing how “boring” Joslyn is over and over is kind of like nails on a chalkboard.] After deliberation, sifting through all the ideas (we loved geo caching in the gardens and QaRt Codes), we decided to combine aspects from a number of proposals and iArt: For Kids, By Kids was born.
MOLLY: The students were all very excited because their ideas were going to be implemented into a digital scavenger hunt that would be used by the public. Then we worked creating scavenger hunt categories, questions, clues, and themes. It was hard work! Students worked in their small groups for several days just brainstorming.
LAURA: I needed to figure out exactly how to deliver this content? Students offered to create websites and build apps. Was there enough time since we were now into our second semester? Enter: Green Door Labs. They contacted Joslyn to be a test site for their new Edventure Builder – talk about perfect timing!
MOLLY: Laura visited our classroom and helped us to get the information we created into the computer program. It was a slow process.
LAURA: Whew! It was, but the students were fantastic. Up next was getting the Museum galleries retrofitted for WiFi to handle all the devices that would be used during testing and eventually museum visitors.
MOLLY: In February, we returned to the museum to try out the new product we created. There were many glitches and the students noticed many of their own grammar mistakes. When we returned to school, students brainstormed possible solutions for the glitches in the program. They wrote a letter to the creator of Green Door Labs to offer ideas about possible changes that would make the scavenger hunt experience better. They also wrote a letter to Laura offering ideas on how to change the grammatical errors of the program.
LAURA: They took ownership of their challenges and their product. They wanted it to be ready for the launch party. Due to their feedback, Green Door Labs even added a new feature to the Edventure Builder – photo challenges, and I updated the six Edventures per their instructions.
MOLLY: We finished the project with a celebration night at the Museum. Students and families came to eat food, hear Joslyn director Jack Becker and Julie Dierberger from UNO’s Service Learning Academy speak, and test out the newly updated project. It was a hit!
LAURA: Molly created this excellent reflection video. After the footage of their thoughts at the beginning of the project or “how they thought the Museum would be boring” (le sigh), they realized it was cool and proud of their contribution to Joslyn. And we appreciate their service through the addition of “their voice” to Joslyn’s interpretive offerings!
iArt: For Kids, By Kids (powered by Edventure Builder by Green Door Labs) will be available all year at the Museum. Bring your web-enabled device or borrow one of ours. Let your Edventure at Joslyn begin!
Director of School Programs & Interactive Media
Joslyn Art Museum
Language Arts Teacher
Buffett Magnet Middle School