Oklahoma's number one blog for natural and cultural history.
If you are reading this blog post, thank a teacher. Being a great educator is about more than sharing knowledge—it’s about sharing wisdom, insight and skills for living and learning. Teaching is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and that’s why we’ve developed resources to help Oklahoma educators provide their students with the best. Here are a few examples…
Fossil Fuel Fund
Oklahoma has experienced more budget cuts per student since 2008 than any other state in America. Often, this means teachers are unable to engage in critical learning opportunities like field trips. In 2007, OU President Boren established the Fossil Fuel Fund. This scholarship reimbursement program enables low-income schools to enjoy the museum at no cost. Last year, 55 schools received $12,204.86 in reimbursements! For more information about this program and how to apply, click here.
We offer many opportunities for professional development, including Science Institute. This four-day science investigation provides educators with a deeper understanding of content, inquiry and the nature of science. By working with university and museum scientists, teachers learn to incorporate science more effectively in their classrooms. Additionally, this program is funded by the Sam Noble Museum and does not cost for participants. For information on how to apply, check out our website.
Teacher Appreciation Month
From pre-K to 12th grade and private school to homeschool, every teacher deserves thanks. Every October, the Sam Noble Museum offers complimentary admission to all Oklahoma pre-K through 12th-grade educators and their families in celebration of the hard work and dedication our teachers provide. For information about upcoming promotions and complimentary admission, be sure to like us on Facebook.
You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to your child’s education – especially in the summer. It’s important for parents to do their homework before enrolling in educational programming, so grab your pencil! Class is now in session.
Lesson 1 – Not all Education is Equal
Unlike many educational programs outside of school, our curriculum is developed by trained educators to complement the statewide plan. Additionally, our educators strive to go above and beyond the Oklahoma Science Standards, providing additional science education to students who may lack opportunities and resources.
“We provide out of school opportunities for students to engage in science and explore the world that they can’t access in their schools,” said Jes Cole, head of education. “We are really fortunate to be a complement and to help supplement Oklahoma schools for science education.”
By teaching Oklahoma children the joy of experiential learning, the museum has molded statewide science education. In the past year, 1,245 participants enrolled in our public education programming, and the museum has impacted 219,380 students through field trips in the past decade.
Lesson 2 – You Don’t Need a Classroom
Nothing is more terrifying to a teacher than watching his or her students discard precious information over summer vacation. But there is something you as a parent can do, and it starts with Summer Explorers.
Summer Explorers is the Sam Noble Museum’s summer educational programming for students ages 4-14. We offer a wide variety of courses throughout the summer - covering everything from baby to animals to pond scum, world cultures to paleontology. It’s a chance to see the world behind the safety of gallery walls.
“There aren’t many summer camps that have the same security that watches over priceless artifacts in the same area as my priceless kiddo,” said Amy Davenport, parent of a former Summer Explorer. “Whenever we drop Zoey off to class, we know she is in great hands.”
Lesson 3 – Learning is for Life
If you’ve ever heard the term lifelong learner, then you know that curiosity is not outgrown. Adults love digging in the sand for buried fossils just as much as their children, especially when playing for keeps. That’s why the museum offers family and adult-only public programs.
“Everyone is a lifelong learner, and everyone’s always wanting to learn more,” said Cole. “We try to offer what other educational institutions cannot, and that’s how we design our adult programming.”
In addition to inspiring new interests, adult education also strives to answer everyday dilemmas with specialized scientific knowledge. From preserving family heirlooms to mastering macrophotography, these programs foster learning for life.
Summer brings ample opportunity to enroll your child in educational programming - but will you make the correct choice? Every right answer begins in a book, so study up using our education website! Come see what science education is all about, and discover our school of thought.
Sure, April showers may bring May flowers – but that’s not all! April also brings one of the greatest weeks of the year, Volunteer Appreciation Week. Although the national Volunteer Appreciation Week doesn’t kick off until April 6, the celebration has already begun at the Sam Noble Museum with the naming of the 2014 Volunteer of the Year!
So, who’s this year’s deserving winner?
Meet Don Batchelor, one of 250 active volunteers working in collections, offices and with the public. Batchelor has been a docent in the Hall of Ancient Life for 14 years and loves sharing his interest in single-cell organisms with our guests.
“I could spend an hour extolling the satisfaction I get at the museum,” Batchelor said, “and I appreciate the opportunity to use 70 years of experience in the field.”
The Hall of Ancient Life, where Batchelor volunteers
According to volunteer coordinator Genevieve Wagner, the Volunteer of the Year Selection Committee, made up of former recipients, selected Batchelor because of his long service and dedication to the public.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Our volunteers, of course!
“It is important to acknowledge the members of our volunteer community as each one of them makes a difference to the museum,” said Wagner. “The volunteer of the year award is part of that acknowledgment.”
Museum director Michael Mares agrees.
“The Sam Noble Museum would not be able to offer our public anywhere near the quality or quantity of programs that our volunteers make possible,” Mares said. “They are a most important part of the museum experience, influencing collections, exhibits, public programs, research and every other area of museum activity. “
We hope that answered your question. Now, who’s ready to celebrate?!
Every year, the Sam Noble Museum hosts its Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in April to thank all of the volunteers that pour their passion into our organization. This year, the dinner will be held on Thursday, April 10 and will serve as an opportunity to recognize Batchelor for his contributions. Our community partners at Arvest Bank sponsor volunteer Appreciation Week and the Volunteer Dinner.
Thinking about becoming a volunteer yourself? Feel free to check out our volunteerism page! And remember, the next time you stop by the museum, be sure to congratulate Mr. Batchelor and thank one of our many volunteers for a job (very) well done!
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
Learning isn’t just for the classroom
Think back to your days in elementary school. Can you recall all the stages of the water cycle? Which book your teacher read in the fourth grade? What about the sixth president of the United States?
But you can remember seeing the zoo’s giraffes on your second grade field trip or zipping down the pole during a trip to the local fire department. According to Scientific American, the human brain can hold a million gigabytes of memory. So, what gives? Chances are, some of your most memorable experiences happened outside out of the classroom – and that’s why experiential learning programs are so important.
Experiential learning is an integral part of education
In recent years, Oklahoma schools have faced increasing difficulties obtaining funds for supplemental learning experiences like field trips. Higher operating costs related to energy, transportation and insurance, among others, are forcing many schools to eliminate field trips and other experiential learning programs.
To demonstrate his commitment to the Sam Noble Museum and its educational programs, OU President David L. Boren committed $10,000 to the museum in 2007. These funds established the Fossil Fuel Fund (FFF), which provides scholarships to low-income, high-poverty area schools in Oklahoma.
A thank you note from a FFF recipient
Today, the FFF continues to provide scholarships to Oklahoma schools. Last year alone, 55 schools applied and $12,204.86 in reimbursements was distributed. That’s 2,949 students!
Each scholarship provides an average of $400 in transportation reimbursement to the school, and allows approximately 40 students to experience the top-notch galleries, exhibitions and artifacts found only at the museum.
Students take in the amazing Hall of Ancient Life
The FFF also provides a classroom-based educational program that students can enjoy during the visit. These specialized classroom programs are designed to complement classroom curricula and are correlated to current Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) learning objectives for the state of Oklahoma.
A glimpse of our PASS-driven educator’s guide
“To see the wonder, the awe, the interest in my students as they viewed the exhibits, to watch them interact and answer the educator, and to experience their growth in social/community skills was so satisfying for me,” said one ninth-grade teacher from Ada Junior High.
Schools who visit the museum on a scholarship need only to provide the discounted student admission fee ($1.75 per student) for their entire field trip experience. In situations where the need is dire, the per student admission fee can be reduced waived. Funds are disbursed on a first come, first served basis.
“As a science museum, we understand that exploration, discovery and direct experience are powerful learning opportunities,” said Jes Cole, head of museum education. “We strive to make the museum accessible to all Oklahomans, and the Fossil Fuel Fund is one important way we can accomplish this goal.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life, physical, and social science occupations are projected to add 190,800 new jobs between 2010 and 2020 as they grow by 15.5 percent.
With science occupations constituting such a major portion of America’s future job market, it is imperative that we invest in today’s students. If you would like to make a contribution, either on behalf of an organization or individually, please contact Pam McIntosh at (405) 325-5020. Or, if you would like to apply for scholarship assistance, please fill out the application on our website.
Help us make science unforgettable. Contribute to the Fossil Fuel Fund.