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Once Upon a Time: Happily Ever After of the Next Generation Open Access

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The proposed exhibition invites school groups ranging from third to fifth grade to empower themselves with the simplicity of a story, at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC. The audience is introduced to five elements of a story to help them create their own as they journey through the origins of a familiar storyline, Cinderella. The exhibit connects with the preteen by introducing a grandparent figure as a storyteller to lead them through the exhibit. They will experience the flexibility of storytelling by learning the unfamiliar fragments of the Cinderella story, from the beginning (Egypt) and middle (China). It will thread this recognized character and conflict as a focal point, but be told with a different setting and plot. It will conclude with the familiar theme of the French fairy tale. As they travel through a timeline of three different cultures, they will be engaged in various staged immersive environments. The exhibit’s focus is to inspire and actively involve the audience in co-curating the exhibit with their sense of enthusiasm, which will be temporarily displayed throughout the walls of the exhibit. The use of technology will provide a platform for the children to reinforce the storyteller’s message as well as to create their own story in a collaborative environment. It is through this experience that the preteens will gain a sense of self. Before they are able to post their stories online, they will review concepts and connect their actions to a renewed sense of responsibility. They will enter a broadcast room to voice what they post online. They will be told not to post anything that they would not tell their grandparents. Technology is neutral. It is the actions taken, which make it a good or bad experience. After signing a social media contract with the museum they are now ready to post their story with the help and approval of the museum staff. These familiar elements of a storyline and the grandparent figure will lead them down an unfamiliar path of being the authors of their own success stories.

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