Eighth-graders at Camanche Middle School got the chance to experience history firsthand and share their experiences with classmates back at school by using several forms of technology and social media.
The 47 students along with several chaperones and teacher Erin Montgomery spent six days traveling and visiting several historical sites in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. along with taking in Amish culture in Lancaster, Pa.
Students who were unable to go on the trip stayed connected with the group by following its blog, Facebook page and communicating via skype.
Memorable sites included the Vietnam Memorial, the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Gettysburg, the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and many more. Montgomery planned the first trip four years ago and has been planning it every year since and says it helps students get more interested in the classroom.
“When they experience what they’re learning in class by visiting these historical sites and learn about them firsthand, it helps get them more interested in the classroom,” Montgomery said.
Students were assigned to post blogs on various historical sites in groups of four, giving students and family at home a chance to experience the trip. Montgomery also posted updates on activities and events to the class trip Facebook page. The students at school were also able to experience a tour of Gettysburg via skype through Montgomery’s cellphone. Camanche Middle School displayed the historic tour to students on a Smartboard.
The traveling group stayed busy sightseeing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the trip. There was always something to learn at each site, according to student Bailey Mensinger.
“There was so much to see and every building and detail had a meaning behind it,” Mensinger said.
Several sites were under construction like the reflection pool and the World War II Memorial, but the students weren’t disappointed with the full itinerary of unique sites and memorable experiences.
Student Jacob Pulse recalls a particularly moving moment at the Holocaust Museum. Visitors to the Holocaust Museum receive an identity card of a real concentration camp prisoner and find out their outcome at the end of the exhibit.
“My dad was a chaperone on the trip and at the end of the exhibit someone approached him and said that the guy on his identity card was at the museum,” Pulse said. “He was right there, it was unreal.”
The group shared several other memorable experiences such as having Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, running into Bill Nye the Science Guy at the house of Betsy Ross, meeting Amish people and learning about their culture and seeing the brand new Martin Luther King Monument.
Nic Phelps, another student, says his favorite part of the trip was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where they got to try out flight simulators. Due to the quanity and depth of the Smithsonian Museums, students were able to choose which museums their groups would visit.
While the trip was packed with monuments, memorials, museums and much more, the students expressed interest in seeing more and coming back for another visit.
“We didn’t want to leave,” Student Morgan Lyons said. “The places to see and things to learn are never ending. I would definitely take my kids there someday.”