What better way to learn the tools of historians than to take a trip to a local museum to see them firsthand! As my second graders learned about artifacts, documents, photographs, and oral histories from the museum director, Dan Davidson, they quickly realized they had a tool to share as well! Having experimented with the use of QR codes and using iPads for creating videos, they saw a way to add a new dimension to the exhibits at our local museum.
They introduced the idea of capturing oral histories on video, uploading the videos to YouTube, then creating QR codes to be displayed in exhibits. The museum director of our local museum, Museum of Northwest Colorado, was unfamiliar with QR code technology at that time. As the kids explained how it worked, he was extremely supportive of the idea and provided a list of contacts. The class wanted to focus on local elders who had connections to exhibits they saw in the museum.
We began with a series of lessons about the history of our small community and comparisons of photos from the past and today. Using a list of names provided by the museum, we began contacting local elders to invite them to participate in our project. Once contacts were made, and visits scheduled, the class began a series of trips back to the museum to film. Using the exhibit as a backdrop, the students interviewed and filmed each elder telling his or her story.
After a bit of editing, the videos were uploaded to a museum YouTube channel, QR codes were created and delivered to the museum for display.The project was not only important to the students, it was equally as engaging for the elders we interviewed. More than one asked for an additional opportunity to talk with the kids. One favorite, Myrtle, a delightful friend in her 90’s, said she had forgotten to share some of her stories.She visited our classroom to share more, bringing along quilts, photographs, and toys from her past.
Our project did not end there. With the help of the local newspaper, we organized an event at the museum to introduce the project. We invited those who participated in the oral histories, student family members, and local community members to the museum to see the new QR code displays. People were encouraged to bring along devices. Second graders were on hand to help download apps and teach people how to use QR code readers to see the videos.
Learning about history was made even more fun and memorable by participating in the gathering of oral histories. The children were excited to be part of introducing a new technology to the displays and they made wonderful new friends. One of the elders scheduled for interview passed away prior to our visit. The children were deeply saddened and realized how very important it is to gather the stories of our elders. We have since lost some of those we were able to capture, but because of the work completed by the children, their wonderful stories will live on at the museum. You can view the videos captured for this project by clicking on this link: http://www.museumnwco.org/video_glimpse_to_the_past