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Authentic Inquiry With Digitized Museum Objects

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Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 12:30–1:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Dr. Kirsten Butcher  
Madlyn Larson  
Matt Orr  

Digitized museum objects are a new educational resource that greatly increase opportunities for authentic inquiry tasks in science and mathematics. Digitized objects from museum collections can serve as the basis for engaging, authentic and student-centered investigations. Learn approaches and best practices for data investigations with digitized museum objects.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this poster is to highlight the educational potential and availability of digitized museum collections to support authentic, inquiry-based investigations for science and mathematics. We will demonstrate how specimens from a natural history collection can be used to gather data that students will analyze to form strong, evidence-based arguments about scientific questions. Participants will be able to (1) identify key sources of digitized museum objects; (2) describe sample student-centered investigations using digitized museum objects; (3) articulate alignment to NGSS and Common Core mathematics standards.

Supporting research

Butcher, K. R., Runburg, M., & Hudson, M. (2017). Using digitized objects to promote critical thinking and engagement in classrooms. Library High Tech News, 34(7), 12-15.

Poitras, E., Butcher, K. R., Orr, M., Hudson, M. A., & Larson, M. (submitted). Predicting student understanding by modeling interactive exploration of evidence during an online science investigation.

Orr, M., & Butcher, K. R. (2019, April). Does physicality impact learner interactions? Evidence from tangible and digital 3D models. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA 2019). Toronto, CA.

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Dr. Kirsten Butcher, University of Utah

Dr. Kirsten Butcher is Associate Professor of Instructional Design and Educational Technology at the University of Utah. Her research examines learning processes and outcomes in digital learning environments, particularly as resulting from interactive features and visual materials. Dr. Butcher teaches courses in technology integration for pre-service teachers as well as graduate courses in advanced instructional design, human-computer interaction, multimedia learning, and technology-based training/communication. Dr. Butcher speaks regularly at national and international conferences on learning technology, online instruction, learning/cognitive science, and instructional design.

Madlyn Larson, Natural History Museum of Utah

Madlyn Larson is the Director of Education Initiatives at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Her work explores the ways in which informal institutions—particularly museums—can support K-12 teachers and students using authentic science experiences and technology-enabled instruction. Her current project,, supports middle school teachers and their students.

Matt Orr, University of Utah

Matthew Orr is a Ph.D. student in the Learning and Cognition Program at the University of Utah. His research interests lie in understanding the impact of multimedia learning materials on student understanding. Matthew's research has been focused on understanding differences in how students interact with tangible and digital 3D representations of museum objects and how differences in those interactions may lead to different cognitive processes during learning.

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