NatureBadges: Open Source Nature & Science Badge System is an exciting collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and LearningTimes. The team was recently awarded a grant from the Digital Media and Learning Competition 4 – Badges for Lifelong Learning competition for this important STEM badge-based learning program.
As the second-most visited museum in the world, NMNH is in a great position to connect millions of visitors and their onsite museum experience to engaging and interactive digital tools for lifelong learning and operate as the hub for a large international network of science and nature badges.
The NatureBadges program is designed to have multiple levels, which will build skills and competencies for budding scientists. As visitors participate in the missions that make up the NatureBadges program, they will build science, communication, and technical skills. Whether learners embark on the Forensic Mystery Mission or the Dino Tracks Quest, they will be engaged in a tiered set of activities that encourages them to try more challenging projects, and acknowledges the science skills they are gaining through the issuing of digital badges.
The Credly Open Credit API platform readily supports the complex and diverse needs of the Smithsonian’s NMNH badge program. Museum visitors will be able to participate in hands-on activities during their visit and then continue to learn when they get home, by working on the NMNH NatureBadges website to complete additional activities, and earn more points and badges.
The NMNH NatureBadges program will offer its learners authentic, real-world activities combined with ongoing engagement with peers and Smithsonian experts.
It is the goal of NMNH to keep visitor audiences engaged with science over time, help them more fully comprehend the science skills they are gaining, and facilitate their ability to demonstrate the skills they have gained to others, all leading to more informed and science-aware 21st century citizens.