Alaska has a long and unique history which could be lost in a short period of time if not passed on to the next generation. Educators on the Kenai Peninsula are dedicated to inspiring youth to understand Alaska’s legacy through unique programs such as the Alaska Museum Day at Redoubt Elementary school; created by 6th grade teachers Jennifer Wardas and Kristin Arthur. “The kids have been working on their projects for the last month and started out by picking a topic that connects them and their families to Alaska. They do research and interviews, collecting information from the internet, books, libraries and then wrote essays which culminated in a presentation of their project before the whole school. They made a display board and brought in artifacts.
One student brought in his grandfather who was a bear hunting guide. It was quite a show,” explained Wardas. The projects ranged from the Kenai River to historical hunting methods, “Even basket weaving. We had students who had examples they brought in to show. Some students interviewed local Iron Dog champions like Scott Davis and brought in parts of snow machines. It was quite amazing; the kids actually taught what they learned,” added Kristin Arthur.
According to the teachers the students work hard while having fun and acquire many academic and life skills in the process. “The research and writing portion will help them in middle school and throughout their higher education. They learned to site their sources and write a bibliography. They learned to meet timing requirements and deadlines which requires students to pace themselves and learn the importance of being responsible and prepared while working on long-term projects. There was an artistic element involved in the creativity, design, layout, and aesthetic appeal of their display boards. They not only used interviews, the Internet, and books, but also science journals and magazines,” said Wardas.
Innovative approaches, such as the Alaska Museum to teaching history, requires a lot of extra effort for the teachers as well. “It’s very time consuming for us and takes a lot of class time management to get some 57 projects all ready to present. We worked together with staff as a team to pull it off and it was very worthwhile,” said Arthur.
The duo will have another Alaska Museum next year at Redoubt Elementary and the public is invited, watch the KPBSD website or newsletter for time and dates.