Pictured here are Charlie Maxwell with a gasoline iron, Henry Whitney with an ice hook, and Brindle Simmons with sheep shears. These students were part of Pam Koller’s primary student group that participated in a historical artifact research project that involved items on display at the Trains, Trails, and Pioneers Museum in Edgemont.
By Eric Harrold
EDGEMONT – Teaching is one of those professions where you sometimes get to experience the fruits of your creative labor. This was the case for Pam Koller when her Primary Class at Edgemont School completed a Historical Artifact Research project. The project was designed to connect learning to the real world based on the South Dakota History Content Standard that calls for using historical artifacts to draw conclusions about family or school life in the past.
Koller created the project for an assignment as part of a graduate course for Competency Based Curriculum and Assessment she was taking through the University of Sioux Falls to fulfill requirements for a Masters in Education Degree in Technology and Customized Learning.
Koller took advantage of the opportunity at the Trails, Trains, and Pioneers Museum that allowed her students to make connections between the present and the past. She first shared some information about the museum, which wants to provide a more interactive experience for its visitors. The students learned that the museum is staffed by volunteers, and not all of them know the history behind every artifact. The museum board is looking for ways to digitally enhance the displays and artifacts to make the museum more interactive and provide historically accurate information for its visitors without hiring a tour guide.
The students were then asked to help solve a ‘real world’ problem. The museum board wants to display QR codes next to artifacts so visitors can scan them to access more information. The volunteers do not have the time to develop these resources. Students were asked to create a digital presentation that can be linked with a QR code sharing facts about an artifact, how it was used in the past, connections it has to life in the present, and how the changes have impacted peoples’ lives.
The learners were given an item to research. Some of the items included were a lantern, telephone, lawn mower, lunch box, cash register, and typewriter. First, they predicted what the item was used for and then they started their research using resources made available by their teacher. They wrote a script based on their research and gave a presentation, which was recorded.
The students’ work will add to the visitor experience at the museum. Their presentations will be linked to QR codes to be displayed next to the artifacts on exhibit there, pointing out the influence of the changes that have occurred with various inventions and how those changes affected society.
Koller observed that learners were engaged in finding their information. While some learners had no idea what their artifacts were, others were able to connect them to historical fiction they had read or movies they had seen. Most realized how easy things are now compared to the past, like it is easier and faster to use electric powered items than manual labor to accomplish a task. The assignment aroused their curiosity about what the items had been used for and made them anxious to share their findings with others. Many expressed a desire to come to the museum this summer to see how the product of their creativity adds to the experience enjoyed by museum visitors .