December 8, 2008 | Education
Smithsonian Grand Reopening Festival Features Verizon Thinkfinity.org
"Mr. Powell Leaves Washington." These were the words proudly spoken by Kathy Brown, museum board member and Verizon Communications senior vice president, as she turned to General Colin Powell at the reopening ceremonies of the National Museum of American History. "This is the title of one of Verizon Thinkfinity.org's free lesson plans, and it is now making history come alive for thousands of students as they learn about General Powell's many honorable achievements."
The Verizon Foundation sponsored the exciting and informative opening events. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C., reopened its doors after a two-year, $85 million architectural transformation on Friday, Nov. 21, with a three-day festival brimming with pomp and circumstance and energy and excitement that celebrated all the museum has to offer.
During the three-day museum opening, more than 60,000 gathered to see the 200-year-old flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, and they had a rare chance to examine an original, handwritten copy of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Crowds of people stood in the cold to hear the former Secretary of State, General Powell, repeat the words that Lincoln read almost exactly 145 years ago.
Historical characters led people to the dramatically renovated museum, where visitors were welcomed by the firing of an authentic 1812 cannon and serenaded by the Children's Chorus of Washington and the Federal City Brass Band. They also watched re-enactors tell the tale of the historic Battle of Baltimore and the U.S. flag's significance.
"In addition to this grand reopening, the National Museum of American History formally launched 'Smithsonian's History Explorer,' the newest Verizon Thinkfinity website and a rich gateway for innovative teaching and learning resources on American history," said Verizon President Patrick Gaston. "We are pleased and excited to be part of a partnership with the Smithsonian as we renew efforts to bring life to our nation's history and share our heritage with learners of all ages."
As part of the opening demonstrations, students from three local elementary schools took part in a unique "classroom experience," receiving high-tech history lessons from Smithsonian staff and teachers trained to use Verizon Thinkfinity.org. The students worked on interactive kiosks to access the Smithsonian's History Explorer website and Verizon Thinkfinity.org to learn:
- The history of the civil rights movement by focusing on the story of three African-American students who defied a whites-only policy at the Greensboro, N.C. Woolworth's store. The Woolworth's snack counter is now on display at the museum.
- The story of Mary Pickersgill, the woman who made the American flag seen by Francis Scott Key that inspired him to write the Star-Spangled Banner.
These lessons offered a window into the hundreds of resources based on the Smithsonian curators' expert knowledge available on History Explorer. All of the resources can be searched by grade level, keyword and historical era.
"The museum's goal as a Verizon Thinkfinity partner is to develop engaging study plans for teachers and interactive web-based learning opportunities for students," said Brown. "Together Verizon and the museum are dedicated to bringing history to children where they live today - online."
"At a time when many schools are faced with tough financial decisions and may be forced to forgo purchasing new educational materials, Verizon Thinkfinity.org can be part of the solution by providing free, engaging, educational materials to any teacher in reach of the Internet," said Al Browne, Verizon Foundation program director - Thinkfinity.org.
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