If you’ve driven through downtown Lexington in the last six weeks, you’ve probably noticed an abundance of yellow school buses parked along the Battle Green and slightly longer wait times at pedestrian crosswalks as students shuffle to and from the several historic sites located in Lexington. May and June have become synonymous with “School Group Season” here at Lexington Historical Society and this year’s season has proven to be one of our busiest seasons yet. So far this season we’ve welcomed groups from twenty-four different schools and three home-school collaborative groups. All six public elementary schools from Lexington have visited us for a morning of fun, but we’ve seen interest from other school districts in the local area start to grow as well. In fact, this season we’ve welcomed groups from as far away as California and even a group from Melbourne, Australia!
While a tour of one of our historic houses is always a fun option and one that 629 students have chosen this season, our programs designed for school children are becoming an increasingly popular option. The Historical Society offers a variety of programs that allow students to not only learn the importance of Lexington, but to also experience the history of the town during their time with us. Every program that we offer students is designed around the use of primary sources and allows students to use these unique materials to help them accomplish a task associated with the program. Whether students are studying Reverend Jonas Clarke’s diary entries to help create a meal for his family or using sworn depositions from Captain Parker’s militia to try and determine who fired the first shots on Lexington Green, students are getting the chance to be proactive in their learning. They can turn on their minds and be creative in these programs. Of the close to 1800 students who have visited Lexington Historical Society this season, nearly 1200 have participated in one of our school programs.
Although this year’s School Group season is slowly winding down, I am looking forward to next year as we are planning to introduce several new initiatives that will be sure to be of interest to young minds. We’re planning to add a new “Simple Machines” program that will teach students to prototype simple machines designed to assist with chores done in Colonial times. We’ve also partnered with Lexington's EMPOW Studios to offer STEM themed school programs where students will learn about the rich history of Lexington. Then they will apply their newfound knowledge by creating stop motion animation projects as well as 3-D building projects (photos above). Finally, we are going to be expanding our home-school opportunities this fall as we look to expand the ways in which Lexington’s rich history can be accessed. So while the school year is over, we’ve already begun preparations to make next year’s “School Group Season” an even better one.
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager