University of Oregon’s Science and Culture Museum Fights Education Inequity

University of Oregon’s Science and Culture Museum Fights Education Inequity

Eugene, OR. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon is addressing some emerging concerns over education equity during the pandemic. The museum is distributing culture-focused activity kits, like the one used by a mother and her children above. These hands-on kits don’t require an internet hookup.

Using a $93,000 grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries, the museum is developing and distributing thousands of science and culture-focused activity kits to Lane County students, ages 6 through 12.

Known as Museum Connection Kits – Inspiring Stewardship for our Collective, Past, Present and Future, the project will emphasize service to children who are without internet access while also serving those who receive online instruction but lack opportunities for guided, hands-on learning.

The kits are free of charge and offered in both Spanish and English. They guide students through a variety of experiments, engineering challenges, craft-making, and other hands-on activities they can complete offline.

Read aloud is another program for preschoolers and their caregivers. 

“Oregon’s recent move to online learning carries the risk of exacerbating already persistent inequities in Lane County,” said Ann Craig, public programs director at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History. “This project aims to serve the communities most at risk, particularly low-income, rural and migrant students, and those whose families are navigating houselessness.”

The museum will work with project partners to deliver the kits directly to underserved students, with a particular focus on students who lack internet connectivity. Key partners include the Eugene Public Library, Springfield Public Library, Connected Lane County, Eugene Springfield NAACP, St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center, and Centro Latino Americano.

Over the summer, the museum piloted the approach with Engineer It!, a take-and-make kit focused on Native American engineering and architectural technologies. More than 3,000 kits were distributed statewide with the help of public libraries.

Mia Jackson, the museum’s educational outreach coordinator, said that “The demand for the program was remarkable, with the help of our library partners, we were able to serve families from Scio to Sutherlin to Stanfield — really, in every corner of the state.”

For the year ahead, the museum will create four new kit themes ranging from environmental science to civil rights to paleontology, each one including a variety of learning activities. Throughout the project, the museum and participating libraries will host a monthly online event that includes a “show and share” gallery where students can display and discuss their completed activities, as well as a live question-and-answer session with a scientist or other expert.

Students without internet access will be invited to exhibit their creations at the museum or one of the partner libraries.

The CARES Act program from the library and museum institute will award a total of $13.8 million in federal funds to U.S. museums and libraries this cycle.

“COVID-19 has not only created a public health emergency, but it has also created a deep need for trusted community information, education, and connection that our libraries and museums are designed to provide,” said Crosby Kemper, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore, and grow. IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities.”

From The Museum of Natural and Cultural History:

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is a place for making connections—to each other, to our past, and to our future. It’s a place for digging into science, celebrating culture, and joining together to create a just and sustainable world. 

Michael E. Nehring Joins Portland Shakespeare Project Portland Shakespeare Project

Michael E. Nehring Joins Portland Shakespeare Project Portland Shakespeare Project

Portland,  October 26th. Portland Shakespeare Project announced that Michael E. Nehring, Professor of Theatre at Chapman University in Orange, California, has joined Portland Shakespeare Project as the Education Director and Associate Artistic Director.

Core to Portland Shakespeare Project’s mission is offering classes and educational programs designed to raise proficiency, broaden knowledge and enrich understanding of classical material and contemporary works that honor the traditions of classical theatre. Nehring will continue the development of strong education programs for actors, students and audience members.

Nehring is an accomplished actor, director, choreographer and teacher. He has been a founding member of several successful theatre companies, including Shakespeare Orange County for which he has played leading roles such as Prospero, Shylock, Benedick, Iago, Malvolio, Polonius, Caliban, and all the Shakespearean fools. He has received the Los Angeles Weekly Award for Performance and three Los Angeles Drama-logue Awards for Performance. As a proud member of Actor’s Equity he has performed for The Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles, A Noise Within, Shakespeare Santa Barbara, Pensacola Shakespeare, and recently for the Prague Shakespeare Festival in the Czech Republic.

Nehring earned his Master’s of Theatre degree at the University of Oregon. He is also certified to teach acting with the Meisner Technique and completed the Shakespeare and Company Intensive training. He has been teaching at Chapman University for thirty years, serving several terms as Theatre Department Chair. He was instrumental in developing Chapman’s BFA degree program in Theatrical Performance and has created classes for the BFA degree program in Screen Acting. He has served as an on-camera acting coach for The Disney Channel and has taught for California State University at Long Beach, The Portland Actor’s Conservatory and at Portland Shakespeare Project for the past two summers. Nehring currently lives and teaches in California, but plans to spend summers and many weekends in Portland.

Portland Shakespeare Project is a nonprofit theatre company dedicated to educating, enriching and entertaining audiences by producing classical works and contemporary works associated with classical material. Portland Shakespeare Project is committed to using dedicated, professional, local actors and technicians.

Portland Shakespeare Project offers classes and educational programs for students, actors and audience members designed to raise proficiency, broaden knowledge and enrich understanding of classical material and contemporary works which honor the traditions of classical theatre.

Portland Shakespeare Project was formed by Michael Mendelson and Karen Rathje to bring high quality and innovative interpretations of both classic works of theatre and modern works associated with classical material to Portland audiences.

Information submitted by Nicole Lane

Portland Shakespeare Project
igniting a passion for the classics
[email protected]

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