The Smithsonian is collaborating with 4-H, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The importance of authentic experiences in shaping the future is emphasized, especially in a technologically advancing world. Museums offer more than simple field trips; with the collaboration of Smithsonian museum educators and youth development organizations like 4-H and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, they can ignite curiosity, critical thinking, empathy, communication skills, and creativity in young minds. This is especially beneficial for rural and urban youth who may lack access to museums in their communities.
Museum visits can create lifelong learners eager to explore the world around them. The Smithsonian’s exhibitions, from ancient artifacts to scientific wonders, have the potential to stimulate imagination. Such visits encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as provide opportunities for deeper engagement with historical events, scientific phenomena, and artistic expressions.
Over the summer, National 4-H Council and Boys & Girls Clubs of America collaborated with Smithsonian educators, hosting over 1,100 participants for facilitated experiences at the Smithsonian. These experiences aligned with the Educating for American Democracy Framework and focused on themes like Democracy, Civic Engagement, Social Justice, and Environmental Awareness. Participants received curated resources and activities extending learning beyond the visit.
The collaboration continues beyond museum visits. Smithsonian, 4-H, and BGCA are developing projects to enhance communication skills, empathy, perspective building, and creativity. Programs explore topics like Environmental Justice, use hip-hop to enhance literary and communication skills, and promote social justice discussions. This collaboration aims to shape the next generation of leaders and innovators, fostering a love for lifelong learning and critical skills.