May 12, 2015 12:30 pm

NEA’s $20K grant for Penn Museum’s Middle School STEAM Program

Unpacking the Past was launched in October 2014 and is expected to reach reach more than 5,000 students and teachers from 64 schools.

Unpacking the Past is a hands-on, multi-stage program for Philadelphia 7th grade students, teachers, and families at at Penn Museum. Last week, Penn Museum announced it received a $20,000 grant National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to Penn Museum in support of the program.

“We are delighted to receive this prestigious national grant award for a collaborative new program that, in its first year of activity, has already reached and inspired thousands of Philadelphia’s young people to delve deeper into the ancient histories of the Egyptian and the Roman Worlds, exploring their rich arts, cultural expressions, and scientific achievements,” said Julian Siggers, Ph.D., Williams Director of the Penn Museum, in a press release. “We are proud of this innovative, accessible program, and the powerful educational experiences it opens up, both in the classrooms and in our Museum.”

All the aspects of the program — teacher professional development training, in-school lessons, school supplies, interactive museum field trips that combine gallery tour and workshop experiences (transportation costs provided), and culminating student projects  — are free of charge. In addition, every student who attends receives a one-year family membership to the Penn Museum.

Unpacking the Past teaches and reinforces “Common Core” curriculum standards and offers STEAM-rich (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) content.

“I also wanted to share what one of the girls said this morning while we were talking about the trip: “Now I want to be an anthropologist when I grow up!” I’d say that’s a mark of success,” said Tara Gatti, 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Mastery Charter School, Pickett Campus, in a press release.

Unpacking the Past, a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), and Mastery Charter Schools, was launched in October 2014 with a lead grant from GRoW Annenberg, a program of the Annenberg Foundation. The program was developed by Penn educators in consultation with teachers.

Unpacking the Past is expected to reach more than 5,000 students and teachers from 181 classes, from 64 schools (54 from the School District of Philadelphia, 8 from Mastery Charter Schools, and 2 from KIPP), based on past visits and upcoming bookings through the 2014–2015 school year.

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Activities with Unpacking the Past will continue over the summer, with Museum Professional Development workshops for teachers scheduled on July 13–14, which includes talks by world renowned University of Pennsylvania scholars, behind-the-scenes museum tours, and lesson planning to help to prepare students for the Unpacking the Past programs, with an ancient Egyptian (Mummy Makers workshop) or ancient Roman (Digging Up Rome workshop) focus.

Image via Penn Museum


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