The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ e-Mammal International program is one of nine new projects announced today by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums as part of a Museums Connect grant. This award of $83,000 will allow Wake students to connect with communities around the world through a museum-based exchange program.
e-Mammal International seeks to promote cultural understanding among children between the ages of 11 and 14 through the lens of applied scientific research among middle schools in the United States, India and Mexico. This international partnership will expand upon the work of Dr. Roland Kays (Director of the Biodiversity Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences) and his ongoing research project, e-Mammal, to collaboratively engage children worldwide in learning about science while simultaneously learning about each other’s cultures. e-Mammal is a citizen science project that uses camera traps to document animal population sizes and habitat use. The Museum (Raleigh, NC), the Bombay Natural History Society (Mumbai, India) and the Museo de Paleontología (Guadalajara, Mexico) will work together to engage children and their teachers while also generating data for scientists in each of these respective countries.
The Museums Connect grant also leverages a larger grant from the National Science Foundation (Students Discover) that will allow Museum staff to produce a curriculum module that teachers can use to implement e-Mammal in the classroom.
“Camera traps are a great tool for teaching about science because they allow kids to get their own amazing pictures of animals, translate those into data points, and start to ask their own questions about zoology,” said Kays. “This Museums Connect grant will add a new dimension to our work, using cool animal pictures not only to engage kids with science, but also to help them learn about other parts of the world and their cultures. We know our cameras in North Carolina return all kinds of surprising pictures of wildlife living near schools like deer, raccoons, foxes and coyotes – I can’t wait to see what species we find in India and Mexico.”
The program, which runs through June, 2015 will encourage 6th, 7th and 8th grade Wake County Public School students from Carroll, East Cary, East Wake, and North Garner Middle Schools and their teachers to:
- Create an introductory video that captures the nuances of everyday life as a middle school student in their country. This video will aid students in expanding their knowledge of different cultures and will be uploaded onto the e-Mammal website, www.emammal.wordpress.com
- Learn more about the scientific method and contribute to making new discoveries about how wildlife adapts to humans around the world.
- Upload data to the e-Mammal website and database, which will be used by the scientific community.
- Meet working scientists and researchers to learn more about careers in STEM
The Museum will partner with International Focus to stage a cultural event at the Museum as part of the capstone experience to help teach local children and visiting Indian and Mexican children about cultural diversity. International Focus is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization with the mission to support North Carolina’s international communities and promote American ideals through cross-cultural communication, education, understanding, and the celebration of culture, arts, and cuisine from around the world. The event will feature youth groups performing traditional Indian and Mexican dances in costumes. Since its inception and now in its seventh year, Museums Connect has linked American museums in 26 states and the District of Columbia with partners abroad in 45 countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Mexico, Kenya and Morocco. The program is excited to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2015 cycle to further extend the program’s reach. This year’s grantees embrace the discipline and geographic diversity that is the signature of Museums Connect; locations new to the program include Cambodia, Honduras, Jamaica, Mongolia, and Romania. Further information about the 2014 awardees can be found at www.aam-us.org/museumsconnect.