An Open Letter to Science Educators

Dear colleagues in science education,

Greetings from Kerry Magruder, Curator, and from Brent Purkaple, Education Coordinator, of the History of Science Collections at the University of Oklahoma Libraries.

We are writing to invite you to be involved in Galileo’s World over the next two years by bringing students through an activity-based tour of the Galileo’s World exhibition at the OU Library, or by giving us feedback on the educational resources we are creating based on the exhibit materials.  Prominent subject areas include astronomy, physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering and the life sciences, and others, and we emphasize the connections between them, through cross-cutting concepts that connect science with the fine arts, music, literature and other humanities.

We’d be glad to meet with educators sometime this summer or early fall to offer a preview of the books and instruments on display, the related activities, and the educational resources we have been developing.  There are absolutely no fees involved for you or your students to visit the exhibit or to use the educational resources.  Our days and hours are flexible, worked out on a case-by-case basis.  We’re also looking for adults willing to train to help us establish a docent program, so if you know of any folks willing to volunteer with solid experience in education and/or science, please invite them to get in touch with us as well.

As you may already know, the Galileo’s World exhibition launched a year ago to celebrate OU’s 125th anniversary, and featured more than 350 rare books displayed in 7 different locations, organized into more than 20 galleries, many of which emphasized astronomy.  You can scan an overview of the exhibit on my professional blog here:
Or dive in to the exhibit website here:
Or follow our educational efforts here:

The programs for Galileo’s World are now over, but last year they included many science and astronomy-related events — from skywatches led by the Lunar Sooners, to lectures by various scientists and historians of science, including several JPL scientists, the director of the Museo Galileo in Florence, and the Director of the Vatican Observatory. As the other locations close and the books from all the locations come back to our vaults, we have decided to go ahead with a 2-year reprise of the exhibition in the library.  So this reprise exhibit is what we would be able to show your students this coming year.

With every class tour, we integrate a few 2-minute activities that relate the “world of the books” to the “world of the students,” so before any tour we would discuss which activities would be most appropriate for your students.  For example, since the reprise exhibit will include all the greatest star atlases, for an astronomy or general science class we might focus on constellations or the tools of observational astronomy (using a class set of celestial globes, armillary spheres, or astrolabes, for example).  For a physics class, we might replicate Galileo’s experiments on falling bodies using our functional reconstruction of his inclined plane.  Or, here are a few examples of the educational resources we’ve been making:

As mentioned above, Brent Purkaple is coordinating our educational engagement.  Brent is a former middle school teacher and now a PhD student in the History of Science program here at OU.  Along with the Educator for the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, Brent took some of our exhibit-based activities in astronomy to over 600 students in area public 3rd, 4th and 5th grades last semester.  We expect to continue that program this coming year.

So let us know if you are interested in one or more tours this coming school year, and also in getting together sometime for a personal preview. Also, feel free to share this post with any other science educators in the area who might be interested in meeting with us or bringing their students for a tour.

Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple

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2 Responses to An Open Letter to Science Educators

  1. Donna kraeer says:

    I would like information on your tours. What cost is involved and what does the tour consist of? I teach 5Th grade. We have 7 classes of 25 to 26 students each.

  2. Margo Calhoun says:

    I am definitely interested.

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