Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


March 20, 2014

History on wheels: Students encouraged to think about choices through HistoryMobile

GLASGOW — Park City Elementary School students had the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills Thursday while aboard the Kentucky Historical Society HistoryMobile.

Other than being a museum on wheels, the mobile showcased interactive displays that asked students questions about typical Civil War scenarios an individual would be in. Students chose what answers they believed were correct, even though there wasn’t an actual “correct” answer.

Kate Sowada, the history mobile coordinator for the Kentucky Historical Society, said KHS’ intent was to encourage students to think about choices and how they can impact the future.

“If [people who lived during the Civil War] chose something else, our lives might be different today,” Sowada said. “We are trying to get the students to use their imagination.

“What would they have done if they had been a slave owner? How would they have treated their slaves? I need these slaves to do work to earn money but slavery is collapsing around me? Putting themselves in another person’s shoes and thinking about the different options. Maybe these people made bad choices.”

Sowada said the mobile is against slavery, but “we try to stay as neutral as possible.”

She said she hopes the exhibit changes what people think about history since there’s nothing to memorize and no standardized tests.

“A lot of times students will come and say, ‘I hate history, it’s so boring.’ But it’s not boring,” Sowada said.

The exhibit is driven by Sowada all around Kentucky, she said.

“We’ve had a history mobile since like the 70s or the 80s. This truck has been around for three exhibits. The first was Daniel Boone. The second was Abraham Lincoln. Those were more traditional exhibits,” Sowada said. “For this one, we really focused on students, so we wanted that interaction, more of a mobile learning lab. ... They can touch stuff, they can jump up and down.”

Sowada said she coordinates and schedules history mobile visits.

“I try to get the word out, get teachers interested. Teachers can contact me and schedule it and figure out a time to get to their schools. I also work with the teachers, encouraging them to use our supplemental materials. We developed some curriculum materials to go along with the exhibit,” she said.

Schools are her priority, she said, but she also drives the mobile to festivals in the summertime so others can enjoy learning more about history.

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