set 05 2010

Pretty nice multimedia resource for educators – Maya Stela online exhibit

The Collection Icons multimedia presentation provided by de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (California) is designed to prepare students for looking carefully at art and uncovering the cultural traditions represented by three key works from the de Young’s collection.

The Maya Stela is for us the most interesting of the three for obvious reasons (it might have more than three when you read this), providing a very nice and entertaining learning.
Before describing its resources, here is the link for you to follow step by step (note that it requires a Flash Player):

http://deyoung.famsf.org/files/collectionicons/index1.html

After the loading process, you’ll see the stela that is the main object of this online exhibit, the stela with the Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw and its basic information. If you click in any place of the flash movie, you’ll enter the main menu and see five categories: “General Information”, “Look Closely”, “Looking Back”, “Maya Writing” and “Dates & Numbers”. We will have the company of a female speaker in the whole journey.
In the first category, “General Information”, you’ll have 4 topics.
The first topic, “What is a Stela?”, gives an basic explanation about what is a stela and provides a virtual magnifying glass for taking a closer look at some details of the stela with the Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw.
The second topic, “Who made this?”, opens a video and tells what we know about this stela’s origin: not as much as we want.
The third topic, “How big is it?”, invites you to guess the stela’s height, the first of the funny challenges or games.
The fourth topic, “Who is this?”, is a video that shares the information we have about the Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw. This topic finishes the first category, so you gotta get back to the main manu (this choice is always in left/bottom).
In the main menu, the second category is “Looking Closely” (“Discover the carvings”). It provides seven stela’s places to look closely, providing information about what is there. Our friend will describe the whole seven elements for you, as she says: “Touch some of this elements to discover the many histories and messages carved into the stela”.
After that, just go back to the main menu and you will see the third category, “Looking Back”, with three topics.
The first topic, “What did it look like?”, is actually an invitation to color the stela yourself. When you click on any color, the speaker tells you from where the Maya obtained that color.
The second topic, “Where did it stand?”, opens a video that talks about the region where the stela was probably made and says where in a Maya city the stelae normally stand.
The third topic, “How was it made?”, is also a video, that talks about the materials used to build stelae. This ends the third category.
Back to the main menu, the next step would be the fourth category, “Maya Writing”. It has four topics.
The first topic is “Find the glyphs”, the most funny challenge: you have to find the Maya glyphs passages shown on the stela. This should be easy for most of the begginers having a little knowledge.
The second topic is “What the glyphs says?”, a video with a very basic explanation of the Maya writing that also translates the texts found on the stela with the Queen Ix Mutal Ahaw.
The third topic is “The Queen’s name”, another video, showing the glyph block or the Queen’s name, explaining separately the glyphs that made this glyph block.
The fourth topic is “Build your own glyph”, the most entertaining feature for me. You can build a block glyph selecting three glyphs that you like most, that will be your “imaginary title”.
This ends the fourth category, and the fifth will be “Dates & Numbers”, having three topics.
The first topic is “Dates on the Stela”, a video that shows the dates found there.
The second topic is “Maya counting”: “How does Maya counting work?”, a brief explanation of how the Maya represent or write the numbers.
The third topic is “How old are you?”: “How old are you in Maya numbers?”. You select your age there and they give you back how the Maya represent that number.
This is the end of this awesome resource, pretty good for children. Unfortunately, the children around me are just brazilian portuguese speakers.

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