Patriots Point Creates a Unique Blend of Experiential Learning

03/31/2010  |  NICK TOMPKINS
historic places

Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum’s newly renovated “state-of-the-art” Education Center offers students, teachers and visitors a chance to experience history and science like never before.

Made possible by an endowment from the Post and Courier, donations collected by the USS Yorktown Foundation and the hard work of Patriots Point’s staff, the museum opened their new, highly-interactive classroom aboard the flagship aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown, in March, 2010. Now in a larger space with separate classrooms, the Education Center is outfitted with the latest technology available including SMART Boards, video conferencing capabilities and high definition cameras strategically located throughout the ship.

“The larger space and new technology will really make a difference in terms of the programs we offer and the number of students we can reach,” said Ned Forney, education director. “More than 50,000 students, teachers and parents participate in our education programs annually and these enhancements will enable us to reach so many more.”

Now twice the size of the original Education Center, Patriots Point’s new facility hosts two “breakout” classrooms dedicated to different areas of interest. The marine biology lab is equipped with touch-tanks, aquariums and microscopes that allow students the chance to examine animals they collect from Charleston Harbor. The interactive teaching classroom can accommodate up to 40 students who will receive hands-on history and science instruction complete with SMART Board technology allowing for a more interactive experience. Additionally, HD Cameras and video conferencing capabilities will enable interaction between people in the classrooms aboard the ship and others anywhere else that have the technology.

“And the experience doesn’t have to end once the student leaves the Yorktown,” said Forney. “The beauty of this technology is that educators can use it once they are back in their classrooms.”

Eventually, educators will be able to access the ship’s cameras remotely via a web browser which will allow staff aboard the ship the opportunity to continue the lesson. In addition to HD cameras in both classrooms, a third will be situated on the Bridge of the Yorktown, which will provide a 360 degree, birds-eye view of the Charleston Harbor and its surrounding areas, including Fort Sumter, the place on which the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

More than 4,000 students — including every Charleston County School District fifth grader — have already participated in the Fifth Grade History and Science program this year. Through this instruction, students spend the day aboard the USS Yorktown learning about World War II — where it happened. They also collect samples from the harbor and analyze the animals back in the marine science lab.

Other programs, like the South Carolina History Program and Oceanography classes are available, or the education staff can build a program for any group’s needs that include standards-based, hands-on activities utilizing their new facility’s capabilities.

Call 843-971-5044 for more information, or visit Patriots Point at

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