Coal is Why they Came

Note: I missed a Facebook page in last week's post--the Preservation Trades Technology Program, of which PHMC is a partner, is also on Facebook.

Thanks to museum educator Bill Strassner for the photos.

School field trips are becoming scarcer. Teachers are looking for more resources to teach history in the classroom. So it’s no surprise that the museum traveling trunk is as popular as ever. Not a new invention, the traveling trunk is a time-tested way to take the museum (a little of it, anyway) to the classroom. Eckley Miners’ Village is the latest site on the Trails of History to embark on such a venture, with the development of “Coal is Why they Came.”

With a grant from The 1772 Foundation, Eckley has created a traveling trunk curriculum for students in third and fourth grades that explores life in a 19th-century coal patch town. The program also helps students learn about the role of anthracite (hard) coal in the development of industrial America.

The trunk contains a wealth of materials that teachers can use to bring history to life—toys and games, reproduction period clothing for boys and girls, mining tools, books, and DVDs. There’s even a CD of period music so students can learn some of the songs their 19th-century counterparts would have sung.

Eckley’s museum educator, Bill Strassner, has been working with area teachers and administrators to make sure the traveling trunk meets Pennsylvania’s academic standards as well as local curriculum needs. In addition to the objects the students work with, teachers also will find a variety of support materials to help them make the most of the trunk.

Strassner is currently testing the program by taking it into classrooms himself. But once the program officially kicks off at the beginning of 2010, teachers will be able to borrow the trunk (at no charge) for anywhere from two to four weeks.

If you’re a teacher in the anthracite region (public, private, parochial, or homeschool), you can contact Strassner by way of Eckley’s website for more information.


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