History Explorers: Developing an Interest in History for Today’s Youth

Hello, Friends!
One of the things I love to do is to help students and the general public develop a deeper understanding and love for history. While I get to do this regularly with field trips and giving tours of the Memorial, I only have around one hour to cover the history of D-Day in the context of World War II. While I have been able to inspire most with the personal stories of D-Day veterans and their families, most of our youth like to learn with their hands and through interactions which is difficult to do with large groups in such a short period of time.
One of our History Explorers watching
rain form from the cloud.
This is why I love our partnership with a local elementary school in the county through the 21st Century Grant program. Through this partnership, students travel up to the Memorial once a week for eight weeks for an hour each visit. In this time, we get to explore and interact with the history of D-Day. This is what we have done for the past few weeks:
On the third week of the program, we talked about preparing and planning for the D-Day invasion. We talked about, and even tested each other on, requirements to be a part of the military, analyzed the invasion map and created our own, and finally discussed how weather impacted the invasion and did an experiment on how rain forms with shaving cream and food coloring.
On the fifth week, we talked about the naval and air operations of the D-Day invasion. We created our own Higgins boats (LCVPs) and tested them to see how much weight they could hold. We also made our own P-51 Mustang paper airplanes.
Our History Explorers shopping for a meal with only
10 ration points and $5. 
Last week, we interacted with artifacts from the homefront and tried our hand at shopping with ration points in the Memorial’s “Piggly Wiggly.” And today, we will be talking about the importance of victory in WWII and how we can honor veterans today. We will be making V-Pins and creating this fun craft as a card to hand out to veterans at the Memorial’s Veterans Day ceremony on November 11th.
Not only can history be relevant to us today, but we have to remember that it can be fun, as well. That is why I love working with our History Explorers. Instead of learning history through a lecture or PowerPoint in a classroom, we can get our hands dirty and tangible interact with the past in a way that they will remember for years to come.
Until next time,

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