National Museum of the Marine Corp

Hands-on learning and curriculum

08/23/2010  | 
teaching through travel

Since the opening of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in November 2006, more than 70,000 students and youth groups have visited and participated in the museum’s education programs, both formal and informal. The formal activities target hands-on learning and curriculum offerings for elementary, middle and high school students and teachers. A major element of this is a school outreach “Teaching Trunk” program that takes Marine Corps reproduction artifacts and equipment from various historical eras into schools prior to student visits. Classroom activities are distributed to the teachers before the students arrive at the museum in order to reinforce specific Virginia Standards of Learning taught in the classroom.

The NMMC Education Department has done outreach with the Department of Defense schools at Quantico, Stafford County, Spotsylvania, and Fairfax schools. The department also sponsored a project by an Advanced Placement French class at Forest Park High School in Prince William County to translate a museum publication.

Beginning in 2008 and working in conjunction with Prince William County Schools the NMMC Education Program has been enriched by a highly successful Teacher-In-Residence program. Through the efforts of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC) received grant funds to hire a PWCS teacher for a year to create curriculum and build an academic network with not just local school districts but statewide as well. The fully-funded position is made possible through grants from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and The Sloan Foundation to the Museum’s Education Program. The program is ongoing and will enable the Teacher-In-Residence to continue creating innovative curriculum and develop programs in conjunction with the educators of the NMMC as well as serve as liaison between PWCS and the NMMC.

The Education Department hosts Teacher In-Service programs aimed at improving classroom and research skills and to help teachers earn re-certification credits. For each formal workshop, a teacher receives 5 re-certification points. Since opening, the Education Program at NMMC has offered teacher workshops on World War I and II, Teaching Civics for K-5, the Cold War, and a special symposium on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2009. The aim of the workshops is to help teachers learn new and innovative ways of teaching history and social studies.

Informal, family-oriented education programs are also a priority of the NMMC Education Department. “Discovery Carts” are used in the galleries for informal lessons on such topics as the principles of flight, helicopters, and historical Marine Corps equipment. The second Saturday of every month is “Family Day” and a special activity is featured. Among the offerings have been military and airplane modeling workshops, art and writing activities, nautical knot-tying competitions and Curator’s Chats on Marine Corps history. Scouts also find help with merit badge credits as the Education Department at NMMC has a certified counselor who works with Scouts on badges for Aviation and American Heritage. The NMMC Education Department also sponsors the Girl Scout “Thinking Day” each year.

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