New Virtual Exhibit Highlights Milestone in U.S. Education Reform

September 24, 2007

Visitors to the National Museum of American History’s new virtual exhibit “Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik” now will have access to in-depth information about Sputnik, its relation to the Cold War, the reforms in math and science education in the United States that took place at the time and new techniques of learning from the era. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik Satellite Oct. 4, 1957, the online exhibit features images of children’s toys, lunch boxes, overhead projectors and teaching tools from the Sputnik and post-Sputnik era and includes sound clips and video.

“This virtual exhibit is a great resource for teachers and students to learn how the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik encouraged reforms in teaching math and science in schools throughout America. It should encourage conversations across generations: grandparents can show grandchildren toys they played with, books they studied and apparatus they used,” said Peggy Kidwell, curator of mathematics at the Museum.

“The virtual exhibit allows the Museum to share our collection and provide a look into education during the Cold War, when a fear of Soviet dominance drove the United States to accomplish some of its greatest achievements, including putting a man on the moon” said Brent D. Glass, director of the National Museum of American History.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves, and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Documenting the America experience from Colonial times to the present, the Museum looks at growth and change in the United States. The Museum is closed for major renovations and will re-open in summer 2008. For more information, visit the Museum’s Web site at or call Smithsonian Information at (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).