The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced today a $150,000 grant to the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) to create an innovative learning experience titled “What’s in a Name? Species, Naming and the Scientific Process to educate and engage the public in the scientific process of systematics, species identification and naming.  The project is a partnership between HMSC, the Encyclopedia of Life, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as represented by the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.

The What’s in a Name? project addresses the threefold challenge of enhancing public understanding of biodiversity, improving scientific literacy, and creating public awareness of digitized museum and library collections. Over a two-year period, the project will involve development of detailed species ‘stories’ that show how scientists identify and name species and how those names are the product of scientific research and the progression of knowledge over time.The project will create opportunities for the public to extend the hands-on and visual learning in the museum to interactive involvement at four learning stations within the exhibit galleries of the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and in online applications, which can be explored remotely. The project will take advantage of new tools and technologies to give museum visitors and virtual audiences alike ongoing learning experiences, and promote further discoveries.

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