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University Of Wyoming Geological Museum Takes Part In National Digital Learning Program

Laura Vietti

The University of Wyoming (UW) Geological Museum is one of 10 museums from across the nation selected to help develop a new digital learning platform known as Museums for Digital Learning. The platform aims to connect K-12 teachers and students across the country with digital teaching and learning resources.

The project is currently in its testing phase. So far, the Geological Museum has contributed one learning kit.

"The first one is this Junior Wyoming Paleontologists Program and it's aimed at young kids, more like elementary school," said museum coordinator and collections manager Laura Vietti. "It highlights the different time periods and highlights what paleontology is versus archaeology. It goes through and it'll target specific fossils in the museum. But we have pictures of it instead of them actually being in the museum."

Credit Laura Vietti
The UW Geological Museum has one of the best collections of fossilized teeth in the world.

Vietti is also working on a second resource kit aimed at middle and high school-aged students. This one is focused on how much information can be learned from fossilized teeth.

According to Vietti, there are still disparities between different-sized museums with different resources, but the platform helps to level the playing field a little bit.

"I think it's really exciting that we are able to create content, right along with the Field Museum, and some of these other big museums. And all of the content is so different, and it's really fun to see how people put together education activities. Basically, they're just all different," said Vietti. "I'm able to look at all these other kits and sometimes I'll look at the [Field] Museum and just be like, 'Oh, man, that's a good idea. I wish we could do that.' But they have more resources. And then, in the same vein, I think we did some things a lot better than them."

According to Vietti, participating institutions don't have to do any coding or backend editing to add content.

"We have a really strong community engagement here in Laramie and Wyoming, and to some degree, even the nation. We're definitely well known. But I think to really experience what the museum has to offer you have to come to the museum, even though we have a lot of our specimens digitized and we have a lot of online resources," she said. "This resource kit, it really offers a new and exciting way to interact with people all over the world. And it's really taking away the roadblocks for me to reach this big audience. I don't think it's going to prevent anybody from coming to the museum. In fact, if anything, I think it's going to increase visitorship because it'll muster up new and different audiences than we normally would get."

The participating museums will offer feedback on the platform and the process before it's opened to more institutions. The Museums for Digital Learning platform was slated to launch in late 2020 but has experienced some delays. It should launch in the next few months.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Ivy Engel, at iengel@uwyo.edu.

Ivy started as a science news intern in the summer of 2019 and has been hooked on broadcast since. She was supported by the Wyoming EPSCoR Summer Science Journalism Internship program. In the spring of 2020, she virtually graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in biology with minors of journalism and business. She continues to spread her love of science, wildlife, and the outdoors with her stories. When she’s not writing for WPR, she enjoys baking, reading, playing with her dog, and caring for her many plants.
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