Smithsonian and Lenovo Collaborate to Advance STEAM Learning


The Smithsonian is collaborating with tech company Lenovo to foster STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning in school and after-school programs using the Smithsonian Learning Lab, a free online toolkit to find, customize and share digital museum resources with others.

Lenovo is funding the development of six STEAM activities that combine resources in the Smithsonian Learning Lab with hands-on projects for educators and Lenovo employee volunteers to facilitate with students. The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access is designing the activities and a step-by-step facilitator’s guide to accompany each one to support implementation in the classroom and after-school programs. The center will also create two virtual reality education experiences for teachers to embed into their curriculum.

The collaboration kicks off Lenovo’s first Global Week of Service project, April 3-6, when more than 2,000 Lenovo employees in nearly 30 countries will participate in local community outreach efforts. In three North Carolina Research Triangle-region schools located near Lenovo’s American-based global headquarters in Morrisville, more than 130 Lenovo volunteers will lead the Smithsonian’s STEAM activities.

On Monday, April 3, and Thursday, April 6, more than 1,500 students ranging from elementary through middle school are expected to participate in Smithsonian Learning Lab projects that include:

  • Sculptris: Creating a 3D model of an insect based on specimens from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History;
  • E-textiles: Combining circuitry and fabric to create wearable tech;
  • Wright Flight: Learning the basic engineering skills used by the Wright brothers, followed by a digital test flight of a 3D model of the original Wright Flyer from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum;
  • ArtBots: Constructing an art-making robot using motors, batteries and whimsy;
  • Botany Field Book: Learning techniques inspired by a National Museum of Natural History botanical illustrator; and
  • CURIO: A trading card game that challenging students to discover patterns and connections that inspire their own Smithsonian collection.

The North Carolina events follow a successful pilot earlier this year, in which the center and Lenovo hosted a STEAM workshop featuring the Smithsonian Learning Lab for students served by the Marjorie S. Fisher Boys & Girls Club of West Palm Beach County in Florida, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The STEAM activities and facilitators’ guides are available in the Smithsonian Learning Lab for anyone interested in replicating or adapting the lessons in their own school or in an after-school program.

For more information about the Smithsonian and its programs, visit the institution’s website.


About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].