Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Expedition in Marathon County History

'Twas wet and windy with temps only mid-fifties, but two busloads of Marathon Junior High School students did a two-mile (or more!) hike around downtown Wausau this morning.  They were given GPS points and clues to about nine specific historical markers (or buildings).   As each small group reached their first destination they needed to learn about the significance of that marker and answer a couple thought-provoking questions before getting coordinates and clue for the next site.  Of course, we "docents" at each site tried to add more to the students' information.  The docents also learned new, neat stuff too!

The kids did very well.  There was no grumbling about the weather; they were focused on solving their questions.  Perhaps the hiking helped warm them up.  (And there was hot pizza at the end of the trip.)
World War I memorial:  the kids are too young to know that the "backpack" hanging on the soldier's chest has a gas mask hanging out of it.

Punching in GPS coordinates --  a couple units didn't work, but the word clues and adult guides got the place figured out.  Here the WW II (and Korean war and Vietnam war) markers commemorate the Marathon County soldiers who gave their lives to the cause.  The question here was:  how many women are named on these markers?  [Ans:  none.]  And why?  [Ans:  Because women were not allowed in combat then.  I think the 1990's, the Gulf War, is when women first went into combat.]

At the Battle of the Bulge marker:  the docent had an uncle who fought in that battle.  The kids knew who Winston Churchill was (he is quoted on the marker), and they knew it was in WW II.

These kids will be following the theme of war and peace for several weeks after this -- most of their school lessons will involve the theme.  I believe they will finish up with a public display of what they've learned.

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