With many secondary schools around the state forced to cut back on history classes due to budget shortfalls, the American Independence Museum launched a Traveling Truck pilot program early in 2017. Revealing different aspects of colonial life, the program provides experiential learning opportunities in American History directly in the classroom at no cost to school districts for elementary and middle school age children.
“History has a place in today’s classroom,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “There is so much more to history than rote memorization of facts and dates.”
Abigail Pietrantonio, education manager at the museum, agrees and said the program helps students develop many of the ‘middle skills’ required for success in “today’s fast-pace world.”
“Critical thinking, team-building, communication—these are some of the skills that research shows history can help students develop,” she said. “The study of history is as relevant as ever.”
Educating roughly 100 students this past spring in its pilot program, the Traveling Trunk is now fully implemented and has educated nearly 250 students this fall. Most recently, Pietrantonio traveled to Jacques Memorial Elementary School in Milford.
“It was great to be in the classroom with the kids,” she said. “I look forward to visiting more schools.”
For David Van Rossum, President/CEO of Service Credit Union, which is sponsoring the trunk through April of 2018, the program’s success has been “remarkable.”
“We are delighted the program has been so well received and we hope many other children from the Granite State will come to experience our rich history in such a fun and engaging way,” he said.
In each trunk—students have access to more than 70 high-quality replica items, while teachers are guided by a curriculum designed by the museum.
Expressing appreciation at the partnership with—and support from—Service Credit Union, Bray said the program helps to advance the museum’s mission “beyond [their] four walls.”
“The museum closes for tours in December, but this program makes us a year-round concern,” she said. “We are not just preserving history, we are help to teach it while inspiring today’s young learners to become tomorrow’s leaders…This is a great program that fills a very real educational need.”
To learn more about the Traveling Trunk program, or make an inquiry for your school, library, or similar institution, contact Abigail at [email protected].