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Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection Online
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The New York Public Library's Picture Collection Online In The Math and Science Classroom

The Picture Collection Online gives you the chance to integrate images of a variety of types into the math and science classroom. The following are some examples, organized by grade level and with correlations to the New York State Learning Standards. Many of the ideas included support Learning Standards in curriculum areas other than math and science. However, only the math and science standards are listed here. Although these ideas are organized by age group you will find many are adaptable to younger or older ages.

Elementary School

Many of the images in The Picture Collection Online demonstrate how patterns are a part of everyday life. For example an image titled, Looking down Broadway, 1922, includes many New York City buildings. Each of these buildings has patterns as a part of its architecture - in the windows, the cornices, etc. Browse through The Picture Collection Online and select images you think demonstrate patterns in everyday life. Print out the images and distribute them to groups of students. Have each group determine the number of patterns in each picture. Then have students look around the classroom, outside the school, etc. to see how many patterns they can find in their day to day world. If a camera is available take pictures of patterns students discover and mount them in a classroom pattern museum. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 3 - Mathematics]

Students can chart and graph information from The Picture Collection Online images. In this activity groups of students look at a series of images from The Picture Collection Online and use information from the images to create graphs and charts. Divide the students into groups and give each group 3 to 5 pictures, on a particular theme, from which to work. Students should analyze the images and note data about each image. For example, if looking at a series of building images, students would write down the number of windows in each building. If looking at images of people, students would write down the number of people in each image. Students should then take the data they collected and use it to create charts and graphs that compare and contrast the information visually presented in their image collections. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 3 - Mathematics; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 6 - Interconnectedness: Common Themes]

Intermediate School

image detailImages of insects are one of the collections available in The Picture Collection Online. Pre-select insect images for students to use in this activity Divide the students into groups and have each group talk about their image and write a description of the insect and the image without using the name of the insect in the description. When the groups are done with their descriptions, have groups trade their written descriptions but not the images. Then have the groups try to determine what insect was described and draw a picture of the insect. When the groups are finished have the students show their images to the entire class and see how successful they were at determining the insect from the written description. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 2 - Information Systems]

When searching The Picture Collection Online students can analyze and interpret search results using graphs and charts. Show students how to use The Picture Collection Online browse and search features. Divide students into groups and have each group brainstorm a topic they would like to research using The Picture Collection Online. After the groups select their topics have them perform searches to find materials in the Collection. Have each group record the searches they performed - the words used in a search and/or the browse categories investigated - and the number of results returned in each search. Have students make graphs and charts that display the results from each search. Facilitate a discussion with students about the searches they performed and which they think were the most successful. You can extend this activity and have students use Internet search tools to perform research on the same topic and compare and contrast the results and information from The Picture Collection Online and Internet research tools. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 3 - Mathematics; Common Themes; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 6 - Interconnectedness: Common Themes]

High School

The images of bridges in The Picture Collection Online provide opportunities for learning about math, science, and engineering. Show students how to browse through the images of bridges in the Collection. Divide students into groups and have each group select an image of a bridge which they would like to study. From the image have the groups of students generate a series of questions about the engineering and history of the bridge. Use the questions generated as a jumping off point for research on the bridge in their image as well as bridges in general. As a culminating activity have students create a model of the bridge in their image. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design]

Begin this activity by facilitating a discussion with students about how they know how to use different software and hardware, and online resources. Ask students whether or not they tend to read instructions before trying something out or if they just jump right in and try to figure it out for themselves. Discuss the purpose of instructions and manuals and then explain that students are going to create a brochure, for younger students, on how to use The Picture Collection Online. Divide students into groups and give them time to explore The Picture Collection Online. Make sure each group uncovers the various ways to find materials in the Collection and have each group brainstorm what pieces of information are most important to include in a brochure about the Collection. Have the groups write and design their brochures making sure to consider format, presentation, and design. When the brochures are complete have the students present them to younger students. [New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 1 - Analysis, Inquiry, Design; New York State Math, Science, Technology Standard 21 - Information System]