The Titanic Museum attraction

03/30/2013  | 
experiential learning

During a recent field trip to Titanic Pigeon Forge, a student was amazed to learn how primitive 1912’s cutting-edge navigational technology was compared to today’s. “You mean this giant ship was out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no radios or radar or anything? No way!” he said in disbelief.

As his class toured the museum attraction’s recreated Marconi Wireless Room, the seven-year-old boy’s mind continued to race with questions: How did they know where they were? Was a telegraph system all they had to go by? Who operated it? Just how far could signals reach? What’s Morse code? Is it hard to learn?

“It takes practice,” answered a museum-crew instructor, “but I can teach you.” The curious youngster and his classmates watched and listened, then the boy pretended to be a wireless operator and tapped out an SOS message on the telegraph. “Ships within a 250 mile range, which broadened slightly at night, could receive Morse code messages at 25 words-per-minute,” said the instructor. “On the night of the sinking, Titanic’s two young telegraph operators worked until the end, hoping their distress signals were within range of just one other ship.”

And so, with each spark of a telegraph key, young museum visitors can literally tap into new worlds of discovery, imagination and learning. “We see this amazing educational progression every day,” says owner John Joslyn. “It starts with natural curiosity and grows into a much deeper desire to know more — about the ship, its 2,208 passengers and crew and the incredible stories they have to tell.”

A marvel of design, Titanic Pigeon Forge is constructed as a half-scale version of the real ship. As a virtual classroom, it’s filled with authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts. It features custom-built exact replicas of the ship’s Grand Staircase, a First Class suite and Third Class cabin, the Captain’s Bridge and a starlit outdoor promenade deck pressed against a towering iceberg.

More than 100,000 students annually visit this exciting environment that encourages participation and personal growth. At every turn, wide-eyed youngsters encounter hands-on learning experiences that bring Titanic’s extraordinary story to life. As a teaching tool, the Titanic Museum Attraction covers history, social studies, math, science, geography, philosophy, religion and foreign language. Set in the context of real-life historical events, each area of study is made more accessible and, therefore, easier to understand.

To encourage student-teacher participation, Titanic Pigeon Forge created learning programs that work hand-in-hand with educators, as well as families who homeschool. Each program helps students put complex subjects into perspective: Why do ships and icebergs float? If Titanic sank in water the temperature of four degrees Celsius, how cold was it if converted to degrees Fahrenheit? If Titanic sailed at 22.5 knots per hour, how long would it have taken to reach New York Harbor from Southampton, England? Why were Third Class passengers restricted from interacting with First Class passengers?

The museum develops hundreds of questions that stimulate student curiosity and provide educators unique teaching opportunities that get results. The upbeat ship-wide Titanic Scavenger Hunt gives young guests the chance to interact with crew members who help uncover Titanic secrets. Titanic Pigeon Forge also hosts museum sleep-overs, which probe thrilling mysteries that still haunt the actual ship.

A century has passed since RMS Titanic sank, yet its remarkable story continues to fascinate school kids the world over. The guiding principle of the Titanic Museum Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Branson, Missouri, is to honor and pay tribute to every passenger and crew member who sailed the fated maiden voyage. This year, both museums will invite boys and girls to discover the CHILDREN of TITANIC.

For the first time anywhere, each visually powerful new gallery will tell the dramatic, untold stories of Titanic’s youngest heroes: the 133 children aboard the ship. Their adventures will be brought to life, from the moment they learned they were about to sail to America on the largest, fastest ship ever built, to shipboard moments of fun and discovery and, finally, their encounters with disaster.

Years after the sinking, conventional thinking claimed the ship was lost forever, to slowly corrode two-and-half miles below the icy North Atlantic. When a joint team of international oceanographers discovered her final resting place in 1985, RMS Titanic hit the news and astonished the world again. In fact, owner Joslyn mounted and co-led the second dive to the wreck site in 1986. Joslyn and his team embarked on a $6 million expedition to explore the wreckage and retrieve artifacts. Priceless images of the broken ship were captured on film; in October 1987, millions viewed his televised premiere, The Return to Titanic...Live.

Today, under Joslyn’s stewardship, the Titanic Museum Attractions of Pigeon Forge and Branson are recognized worldwide as premier caretakers of the Titanic legacy. It’s also clear that area schools in both museum communities benefit from the invaluable, ongoing teach-and-learn opportunities based on RMS Titanic’s enduring epic journey.

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