July 2012 Sparks! Ignition Grant Announcement

California  |  Colorado  |  Connecticut  |  Illinois  |  Minnesota  |  New York 

North Carolina
  |  Ohio  |  Pennsylvania  |  Wisconsin 


Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center - Santa Cruz, CA
Congressional District: CA_17
Award Amount: $19,657

Contact: Ms. Nina Simon
Executive Director

The Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center will use this grant to support the Loyalty Lab project, the goal of which is to develop strategies for small and mid-sized cultural institutions to track, celebrate, and deepen participant engagement. The Loyalty Lab will enable small institutions like the Museum of Art and History to celebrate and cultivate deeper relationships with participants by experimenting with low-tech, low-cost techniques for tracking and rewarding participation. Using customized strategies from the for-profit world of customer relationship management, museum staff and volunteers will work together to explore ways to celebrate active visitor participation, encourage deeper and repeat engagement, and support relationship building in a systematic way. This work will be shared with colleagues at small institutions around the world through a blog-style website documenting the work in real time.



Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum - Ignacio, CO
Congressional District: CO_03
Award Amount: $24,895

Contact: Mrs. Jill Carlson
Collections Manager and Archivist

Tribal museums have a valuable role to play as physical repositories of ritual objects that are currently in use, providing protection, care, and respect. The Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum will use its grant to establish a legal framework that spells out the responsibilities of museums in storing and protecting cultural heritage without transferring ownership, and outside a typical loan agreement. Sample legal agreements and contracts, along with standards and procedures, will be developed and made available through outreach programs for other museums to use.



Hartford Public Library - Hartford, CT
Congressional District: CT_01
Award Amount: $25,000

Contact: Mrs. Brenda Miller
Curator, Hartford History Center

The Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library will partner with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology to develop a prototype interactive software application with goelocation capabilities, to serve as an electronic field guide to historically and culturally significant sites in the community. The prototype application will provide users with videos, photos, and other resources from the library’s collections related to the history, science, and public use of the city’s Keney Park. Targeted at middle- and high school urban youth, this tool will provide a new way to discover the library’s collections and assist users with individual and collective exploration of the community.



City of Berwyn - Berwyn, IL
Congressional District: IL_03
Award Amount: $21,000

Contact: Ms. Tammy Clausen

The Berwyn Public Library in Illinois will develop a geolocation-capable software application designed to connect teens with librarians and library programs near their current location. The app will allow users to communicate with librarians as well as register for library events and share the event information via popular social networking websites. The software will be used initially by 15-20 Illinois public libraries to encourage increased engagement with teenagers and help these libraries increase their web presence and explore the use of mobile technology in their communities.


University of Illinois - Champaign, IL
Congressional District: IL_15
Award Amount: $21,899; Matching Amount: $4,123

Contact: Mr. James Hahn
Assistant Professor - Orientation SVC LIB

A collaborative team of researchers, librarians, and computer science students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will develop, deploy, test, and evaluate mobile applications that create novel "augmented book stacks." The mobile applications will use the video functionality common in many smart phones to display helpful, real-time interactive graphics that overlay and augment bookshelves of interest to a user in a library. The team will evaluate the potential of such applications to provide improved discovery and access to both print and digital library resources.


Illinois State Museum Society - Springfield, IL
Congressional District: IL_18
Award Amount: $24,349

Contact: Dr. Chris Widga
Assistant Curator of Geology

Virtual Illinois: A Roadside Guide (vrillinois) combines location-aware technologies, user-friendly web-mapping applications (e.g., Google Maps, Mapquest), and the rich historic datasets of the Illinois State Museum to develop mobile and web applications to allow users to navigate historic landscapes in real time. This guide will allow the public to query the database on their mobile devices by theme (e.g., art, paleontology, etc.) and create virtual storylines through the use of tagged data points. It will be built so that nontechnical staff can add content to the framework with ease. It will also be a community resource, allowing local historical institutions and the public to add data, comment on existing data, and customize the framework for their own use.



Minnesota Historical Society - St. Paul, MN
Congressional District: MN_04
Award Amount: $24,813

Contact: Ms. Lesley Kadish

The Minnesota Historical Society will explore data visualization as a new method for providing access to archival collections. Visualizing History is a project targeted at visitors and museum staff. It will demonstrate how data visualization can be used to transform static documents into meaningful graphical interfaces. It will focus on the prelude to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, a devastating and far-reaching conflict whose representation must be rooted in primary sources, and whose complexity demands the kind of intricate modeling that data visualization can provide. The project will produce three data visualizations, each supported by a carefully documented process for applying the precepts of visualization to museum archives. Visualizing History will contribute to the development of 21st-century historical literacy and will demonstrate the power of visual technology to encourage primary source-based learning.


New York

Erie 2-Chautauqua, Cattaraugus BOCES - Angola, NY
Congressional District: NY_27
Award Amount: $25,000

Contact: Ms. Susan Bartle
School Library System Director

New York’s Erie 2-Chautauqua, Cattaraugus BOCES will partner with four school library systems (Buffalo City, Catt-All, Erie 1 BOCES, and Orleans/Niagara) to develop a web-based, searchable resource for high-quality, K-12 nonfiction resources. Using this system, educators will find resources that can be used in conjunction with one another to teach a variety of literary elements. Educators across the country will have access to this program, but it will be helpful especially for those in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards. These standards require teachers and librarians to increase the use of informational texts and to bring social studies and science into reading instruction. This project will better prepare teachers and librarians to meet the changing requirements of reading instruction in their states.


Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY
Congressional District: NY_25
Award Amount: $21,800

Contact: Dr. Ruth Small
Laura J. & L. Douglas Meredith Professor

The Center for Digital Literacy at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies will create, deploy, and evaluate a new freely available online tool to help students, educators, and school librarians critically evaluate web-based information resources for class assignments. The tool will incorporate new evaluation metrics that align with existing and emerging standards for 21st-century learners. It will include additional evaluation and reporting functions designed specifically to help school librarians make recommendations on web-based information most appropriate for use by teachers and students.


North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill, NC
Congressional District: NC_04
Award Amount: $25,000

Contact: Ms. Nancy Easterling
Program Director

North Carolina Botanical Gardens "Healing and Hope through Science" program will partner with NCSU College of Design to design and create a hands-on, interactive, miniature nature exhibit called the Plant Play Pushcart. This greenhouse-garden-on-wheels will provide a bedside field trip for hospitalized children at UNC Hospital that will be, experiential, multisensory, and safe. It will enable children to work with live plant materials without danger of infection by using a sealed greenhouse-type structure. Interacting with the Hands-on Plant Play Pushcart will increase enjoyment and positive distraction, decrease perception of pain, and provide environmental education to hospitalized children who are typically denied the healing effects that nature experiences can produce.



Bowling Green State University - Bowling Green, OH
Congressional District: OH_05
Award Amount: $21,465

Contact: Ms. Nancy Down
Chair, ACB, Head, and BPCL

The University Libraries of Bowling Green State University will produce videos and text records using visual identification, demonstration, dramatization, and expert commentary to interpret non-textual items in its Special Collections that are impossible or difficult to digitize. The videos will be linked to the online catalog as part of the standard record and uploaded to YouTube. The project team will evaluate whether such "enacted metadata" helps users find materials relevant to their research, and whether it promotes increased use of special collections among scholars, faculty, and students.



Mattress Factory - Pittsburgh, PA
Congressional District: PA_14
Award Amount: $25,000

Contact: Ms. Elizabeth Keller
Education Director

The Mattress Factory museum of contemporary art will complete the first phase of development for creating a digital app for iPads called "You Are the Artist!" for children three to six years old. This first phase of the project includes designing the pedagogy, content, look and design, and user-interface plan. Mattress Factory education and media staff will work in collaboration with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) to research and develop content for the app, which will enable young children to engage with specific works of art in the Mattress Factory’s permanent collection.



Cooperative Educational Service Agency - Chippewa Falls, WI
Congressional District: WI_07
Award Amount: $24,988

Contact: Ms. Jan Adams
Director, Media Services, CESA10

The Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) will partner with the Greenwood, New Auburn, and Stanley-Boyd school districts in rural Wisconsin to improve the quality of and access to information literacy instruction for high school students. School librarians from each of the three districts will work with the CESA media director to develop digital resources (text, video, and audio) for teaching information literacy skills. Both students and teachers will have access to these resources. CESA will publish the participants’ final products on the open source textbook platform ck-12 Flexbook. The project team will evaluate the potential of these improved resources for helping students acquire the 21st-century skills necessary to be successful in college and the workplace.