The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago represents an updating of this genre for the online age. It is now the home of "Sue", the largest fossil of a T-rex dinosaur. A virtual tour is available but first the visitor "shrinks" in size to a scale appropriate to viewing the dinosaur and its environs.
The Exploratorium's (San Francisco) permanent collections emphasize physics and a unique version of psychobiology. Students serve as explainers for the exhibits and visitors can observe the making of exhibits onsite.
Special exhibits have offered over-the-Internet collaboration multimedia projects, such as designing a virtual city and exchange of data with NASA's airborne observatory. The Exploratorium has school, industry and museum partners across the US. The Web site also displays a what's new listing with excellent links.
Staff at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has been steadily involved in sharing resources on-line. Topics include: Resources for Science Learning, History of Science & Technology and Kitchen Science Resources.
The Smithsonian, a collection of museums, has been plugged in for several years and their specialists are working towards injecting greater interactivity into their displays. Take a look at Revealing Things -- from each object a cultural study is launched.
The University of California at Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology, like the Franklin Institute site, is wonderfully designed for online access. The level of microdetail, so to speak, will stun your students (and you) with fascination. It synthesizes the study of evolution with the "nature of science". Also, look at www.myfossil.org.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis includes extensive support for teachers.
Check your local children's museum for similar resources.
The Tech Lab at Michigan State has a goal of creating innovative learning experiences which elegantly integrate technology. Check out their wide range of current projects.
The US National Library of Medicine exhibits the Visible Human (both sexes). In addition to example videos and downloads, the entire data set is available. As the saying goes, biology was never like this when I was in school!
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City now has a digital library collection to complement its amazing exhibits. The city of Petra, once the seat of the Nabbatean Kingdom, can be toured online. Its major topics are anthropology, astronomy, biology, earth science, and paleontology. Most visitors think of this museum as very traditional but the online site is engaging for young children with videos, interactive activities, etc. The text itself is accessible. Highly recommended.
MOOM or Museum of Online Museums shows links to familiar spaces like the Musee D'Orsay, international sites like Kyoto, and oddities only online like billboards. An interesting online phenomenon.
Guide to Visiting Museums, published by the DOEducation,is targeted towards both novice teachers and parents. It was designed for real museums but can be adopted for virtual museums as well.
The Smithsonian Institution has launched a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat.
Smithsonian X 3D Overview
This introduction to the Smithsonian X 3D web site explores the different (amazing!) ways the 3D scans can be used and displayed.
With this site and a relatively inexpensive 3D printer, you can now not only talk about an artifact or item, but can print out a copy that your students can interact with in the classroom.
- YouTube URL
The exhibits at these museums rotate between visiting and permanent collections. Encouraging your younger students to visit from time to time will help them learn about the role of museums in our national cultural life as well as the actual content itself. These sites are among the best on the Web for any age!