Superhighway Scholars: Calling all 4th Graders
May 16, 2008
We asked SAAM's Patrick Martin, to write a post about a new Web initiative from our museum’s Education department: Superhighway Scholars.
If you listen closely, you can hear it. It’s that time of year. No, it isn’t the birds chirping, people like me sneezing, or lawnmowers coming out of hibernation. It is the rasp of no. 2 pencils being sharpened, the zip of boxes of booklets being sliced open, and the hum of scanning machines working overtime. It is standardized testing season!
Despite the importance of tests in the overall education process, did you ever reminisce about those wonderful days during fourth grade when you took the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, or the Regents Exams, or whatever version of evaluation your school district favored? We didn’t create the SAAM (Showing American Art Matters) test. We tackled a different form of possible springtime assessment. With our new Superhighway Scholars initiative at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, we aim to combine the study of state history, an elementary school requirement, with enough fun to make it memorable. We’ve mixed authentic project-based assessment with an exciting new classroom activity.
South Korean–born artist Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway, a video installation (pictured right) presents his take on each of the fifty states (and Puerto Rico) in the form of a video collage within a brightly colored neon map. Superhighway Scholars is designed to be a culmination of a state-history curriculum in the spirit of the artwork. Students will create static collages to represent their states, making similar decisions to the ones Paik did. Students will write about the icons and objects they chose to represent their home states. They’ll upload their collages and essays for display on the site. We hope to have all fifty states represented so students everywhere can learn from the experiences of fourth graders all over the country! If you are a fourth-grade teacher, a student, or you know someone who is, please pass the word along. After all that testing, students are ready for a creative outlet. Superhighway Scholars will learn their state’s history and then have the chance to take a road trip on our web site without ever leaving the classroom!
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