Guest Blogger: Nancy Stark - Director of School and Youth Programs
Every year we have the opportunity and the privilege of guiding thousands of students through an exploration of the past and the valuable lessons that such a journey provides. In 2010 alone, we had over 50,000
students, teachers, and chaperones visit from all over the state. We even have some who travel from adjacent states.
We serve students in grades K-12 and beyond. We get a variety of grade levels due to close connections to their curriculum. First and second graders are comparing past and present. Third graders look at community. Fourth graders focus on Indiana history. Fifth graders study colonial history (and the daily life we portray has many similarities). We also get eighth graders studying U.S. history and college students who are education and/or history majors.
We know that to be a valued field trip destination
, it is essential that the activities we offer have a direct connection to the academic standards established by the Indiana Department of Education. With all our hands-on experiences and conversations about the past we cover a variety of standards including social studies, language arts, science, and physical education.
Most (75%) of our school groups come to Conner Prairie on a self-guided school tour. That offering allows school groups access to all our experience areas and allows them to visit at their own pace and in the order they prefer. The rest come for one of our special programs such as Woodland Indians: Art & Culture and Follow the North Star
As we look forward to this new school year, here are a few thoughts running through my mind:
• It is exciting to think that we can impact students’ knowledge of the past and thus their view of the present and future.
• I am always inspired by the expertise and skill of our staff as they engage students in activities and conversations.
• We show students that history and social studies and science can be interesting and fun! How can we convince them it is important knowledge, too?
• It is important that students come to realize that the way of life we present at Conner Prairie (heating/cooking with fire and going outside the house for water) is the present for much of the world. What can we do to promote that awareness?