STEM Education at a Living History Museum

May 31, 2016 by Crescerance
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Is it possible to present STEM education at a living history museum, a museum that re-creates life, culture and the peoples of more than 400 years ago?

Located 80 miles west of Jamestown — England’s first successful American Colony — Henricus Historical Park re-creates the 1611-1622 Citie of Henricus, England’s second successful American Colony, and the nearby Powhatan Indian village of Arrohateck. This living history museum lies on the banks of Virginia’s historic James River. With period buildings and technology and costumed Interpreters, Henricus re-creates the lives, times, events and well-known persons of this earliest era of American life.

Henricus Historical Park provides age-appropriate elementary and secondary-level school programs that combine early American history with sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics: STEM Education. These programs follow early steps in what would eventually lead to the rise of today’s American economic system, communities, government and society.

Elementary students work with simple machines, biology and the environment in our Indian and Colonial programs. They use reproduction mapping, navigation and new or improved weather tools invented in the 16th and 17th centuries — the thermometer, wind gauge and barometer — to sail from England to America using only lines of latitude in “Mapping the James River” program.

Among other activities, secondary students use mathematical coordinate planes to match archaeological sites with their modern locations in our “Math and Mapping the James River” program. New scientific understandings such as Newton’s Laws of Physics — force, motion and energy — are made real to students by experimenting with better cannons, muskets and catapults in our “17th Century Sciences”program.

Modern sciences are introduced in our new program: “Cultures in Contact: Archaeology.” Students enhance archaeological excavation methods through biology, geology, human physical sciences and Dendrochronology. They then study artifacts and primary sources such as maps, pictures and books through a project- and problem-based learning process to guide them in their understanding of the past.

So yes, it is possible to provide STEM education at a living history museum — educational, interactive and FUN for students of all ages.

Content originally appeared in SEEN Magazine Issue 18.1. See full article here.