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IC Museum hosts student field trips

Third graders at West Iron County School work on projects to learn about pollinators and invasive plant species during a visit to the Iron County Museum in Caspian.

CASPIAN — The Iron County Historical & Museum Society hosted both school districts in a series of visits over the course of three weeks. Purdue University students and staff and homeschool kids also visited for a day of fun and learning.

“We love building relationships with our local youths,” said Kathlene (KL) Long, museum director. “On the one hand we are teaching about our local history, but as importantly, we are engaging the next generation. These kids will inherit this museum. They will need to donate to it, volunteer at it and some may even work here during their careers. Being a part of their childhood and having them fall in love with their museum is an important part of what we do. Besides, it’s really fun!”

Each grade, kindergarten through fifth, had a series of three activities they rotated through. Kindergartners learned two Aileen Fisher poems and created their own poetry book, whose covers they painted with watercolors.

First graders went on an art hunt in the Lee LeBlanc Gallery, learned about the history of local Ojibwas and got a taste of life in a one-room schoolhouse.

Second graders learned a little orienteering, were challenged with old-fashioned string games and learned about rocks and minerals.

Third graders learned about Morse Code and Ham Radio — even communicated with people across the ocean. They also learned about the logging industry in the early 1900s and during a take-it-home art project, learned about pollinators and invasive plant species.

Fourth graders had fun with old-timey kids games and experienced a “Mining Immersion” event complete with trying to excavate chocolate chips from cookies.

Finally, fifth graders worked on a skit that helped them understand what it was like to be a logger, engaged in a relay style race, turned cream into butter, ground wheat for bread and washed clothes on an old wash board.

Homeschool kids went on a museum-wide scavenger hunt and enjoyed a picnic lunch out the courtyard and the students from Purdue University were given a guided tour of the whole museum.

“We start working on school visits in February,” explained Brenda Grubs, board member and chair of the Museum’s Education Committee. “The committee meets to go over the activities, spruce up what needs sprucing, sets the schedule and then begins the task of finding volunteers for all the activities. This year we completely revamped the third-grade gardening project, spruced up the fourth grade mining immersion program and completely changed the fifth grade experience. We also came up with all new questions for the homeschool History’s Mysteries scavenger hunt.”

“It takes us months to iron out the schedule, make sure it works for the schools, purchase and assemble all the supplies and then get all the volunteers sorted,” explained Long. “It is a labor of love and many of the same volunteers help with their favorite grade or program year after year. Roughly 650 kids came through the museum for this year’s field trips. Sixteen volunteers covered approximately 42 hour’s worth of visit time.”

“In addition, the schools sent teachers, teachers’ aids and chaperons and lets not forget our trusty bus drivers. The homeschool kids brought lots of parents and even the Purdue students had a couple of older folks with them,” Long said.

“Thanks to the generosity of our community using their Thrivent Dollars to support school visits, the museum did not charge the schools for the visits and were even able to cover the cost of the busing,” she added.

For more information about activities, to buy tickets, make donations or learn about volunteer opportunities, go to www.IronCountyMuseum.org or call 906-265-2617.

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