If you are a fan of museums, then you have seen something like this object before… probably dozens of times. This impressive artifact is a nocturnal from La Belle and it can be used to tell time at night by the positions of the stars.
As historic artifacts and symbols of exploration and discovery, navigation tools like this one spark a visitor’s curiosity and wonder.
You may have seen them many times, but have you ever held one? Probably not.
These tools are kept out of reach. Behind glass. Often with only the smallest bits of text on their labels. There’s an opportunity to do better and offer a meaningful hands-on experience.
Create replicas. Encourage discovery.
Some artifacts leave us craving for touch. (Feona Candlin. 2017) How is this thing made? What does it do? We want to bend the joints. We want to hold it …imagine the night sky …and the open sea.
Now is a good time to start building some replicas! Let your visitors and school groups interact with your artifacts and storytelling in brand new ways. Think about opportunities for school groups to build their own versions. We are happy to share activities and maker files like our laser cut quadrants. Every one of our museum partnerships inspires new tools and activities.
Interpretive labels tell a story. When the math is overlooked or omitted, we lose part of the narrative and the resources and capabilities of the explorers are less well understood. Too often visitors dismiss old navigational tools as faulty and no longer useful… in reality, the awesome math of early stargazing and navigation remains unchanged.
Expand your audience. Host a mathematics field trip.
Math happens everywhere. We can help math teachers and museums uncover the math in any local art and history collection. New math activities can enrich your programming, bringing a fresh take on a permanent exhibit and new visitors. Math does not have to be a distraction from your community engagement or education goals.