Amy Griffin, a student in UD’s Winterthur Program in American
Material Culture, gave her practice presentation to a mock group of high
school teachers. She showed them examples of her research and suggested
aspects of it that could be part of high school lesson plans — the use
of primary source material in history research, for example, and the
connections that can be made to historical developments in science and
“I tried to be colloquial but not make it overly simple for this
audience,” she said of her presentation. “I wanted to take part in this
program to get over my nervousness about public speaking and to learn
engagement techniques. It’s really helping me think of ways to reach out
and interpret my work.”
Other student presentations varied widely in both subject matter and target audience.
Anastasia Day, a fellow in the University’s Hagley Graduate Program
in History, spoke to retirement home residents about Victory Gardens, a
key “home front” effort during World War II. Day shared photos, stories
and statistics and concluded by saying, “I’d like to hear your own
stories next,” urging audience participation.
Mohun praised that idea. “In general, this type of audience wants to
tell stories, not necessarily ask questions, and you leveraged that
really well,” she said.
In another presentation, paleontologist Mariana Di Giacomo, a student
in the Winterthur University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation,
spoke to a group of college freshmen about fossils and the importance of
conservation. She distributed a few samples to her audience, moved
easily around the stage and made everyday references, such as relating a
saber-tooth fang to the movie Ice Age.
On the final day of the institute, students brainstormed ideas for future public-engagement efforts they might undertake.
The institute, which was also co-directed by Erik Rau, director of
library services at Hagley, requires each student to take part in such a
project in the next year. Some will have internships in which they
involve the public, Mohun said, while others will reach out to schools,
museum docents, civic organizations or other groups that host guest