Partner Highlight: Frankenstein200 October Events - Ideas from NISE Network Partners Across the Country

Peter Nagy and Rae Ostman, Arizona State University
Frankenstein200

The year 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. All year long, NISE Net partners have been celebrating Frankenstein’s “birthday” by using activities from the activity kit, which is available for free download. In October, many Network partners used Frankenstein200 activities for spooky seasonal programs. Researchers from Arizona State University took this opportunity to visit several sites to study how museum guests think about science and responsibility and to learn more about how NISE Net partners are using the activities in the kit. Here, we share some of the great things the team observed at partner museums across the country. 

Amping up the experimentation

Some of our museum partners encouraged guests to conduct small experiments when they took part in the Frankenstein200 activities. This gave participants a chance to compare data and find new solutions for science, engineering, and design problems—and helped them be more creative and imaginative in the process. For example, at OMSI in Portland, Oregon, facilitators invited guests to experiment while doing the Spark of Life activity. Guests took a baseline reading, did some physical activity (such as 10 jumping jacks), and then took another reading. This extension to the activity seemed to engage participants more deeply and lead to new questions about conductivity and electricity.

Spark of Life activity

Innovation through integration

At the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, Arizona, facilitators faced an unexpected technical issue when their Dough Creature battery packs stopped working. Their creative solution was to use the Battery Stack activity to create a battery to power the Dough Creature circuits. This integration saved the day, and as a bonus, it helped participants make connections between different activities.

Combining the Dough Creature and Battery Stack activities

Creating opportunities for collaborative art

Some sites motivated visitors to engage in collaborative art activities to help them make connections between art, science, and engineering practices. At ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, participants used their Scribble Bots to draw on a giant sheet of paper to make a large artwork. This simple addition turned the Scribble Bot activity into a community project.

Scribble Bot artwork

Using activities for field trips

Other museum partners invited school groups to their Frankenstein200 events. At the Discovery Lab in Tulsa, Oklahoma, staff worked with groups of first and second grade students visiting the museum as part of a field trip. Students created Scribble Bots, Frankentoys, and Dough Creatures, and experimented with electricity in small groups. The activities enabled students, teachers, and caregivers to learn about science and responsibility together in a playful and engaging way, and to connect issues raised by the activities to topics and ideas in their school curricula.

Classroom prepared for a field trip program using Frankenstein200 activities

Getting involved

You can take part in Frankenstein200 by downloading a free digital activity kit! The Frankenstein200 kit includes seven hands on activities, including five maker-style activities and two activities that explore the science of Mary Shelley’s time. The digital kit includes all the files and instructions you need to assemble your own activity materials, and also provides information on other project elements. Creativity and innovation are always timely!