by: Britney Morgan
Fourth and fifth grade students from Margaret Fain Elementary were rewarded for their good behavior recently with a visit to the National Center for Civil & Human Rights Thursday, March 19, 2015. During a reading session last month, students exhibited model behavior and were well prepared when New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper came to their class. She read and discussed her book, “Stella by Starlight”. Dr. Collette Hopkins, founding board member of the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, assisted with arranging school visits for Draper and was so impressed with the students that she decided to sponsor a trip for them to visit the museum.
Upon arrival, students were given field trip guides filled with questions for each exhibit. The students answered the questions as they toured the center. The guides kept them engaged and helped them gain a deeper understanding of civil and human rights issues.
During the tour, students enjoyed the interactive technology. For example, in the Spark of Conviction: Global Human Rights Movement gallery, students encountered “Who Like Me Is Threatened?” which comprised of interactive, touch
screen mirrors that prompted them to select a word that describes themselves. A full-size image of a person who shares these common traits appeared behind the mirror and explained how their human rights have been violated. Students learned about “offenders” and “defenders” of human rights as well as past and modern day human rights issues across the globe.
In the Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights gallery, students enjoyed the box television exhibit on segregation and the interactive “lunch counter”. As they took a seat at the counter and placed the headphones over their ears, some of their mouths fell open and others froze in complete shock as they experienced firsthand what it was like to participate in a sit-in.
Currently studying the Civil Rights Movement, students were excited to see historic figures and moments they’ve learned about in class. Many pointed out the four young girls killed in the 16th Avenue Baptist Church bombing, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Freedom Riders bus.
Overall, the students enjoyed their visit and were able to walk away with a deeper understanding of global-wide civil and human rights.
“My favorite part was learning about the March to Washington. I learned how hard it was for African Americans back then with harsh laws like Jim Crow,” said Denise Gallo, 5th grade student at Fain Elementary.
Ms. Jordan, fifth grade teacher at Fain Elementary was very happy that her students had the opportunity to visit the museum. She really enjoyed seeing them actively engaged in answering the questions from their field trip guides.
“I love that students were given packets to follow along and answer questions as they toured the exhibits and the interactivity was great, making it very engaging and informative for them,” said Ms. Jordan.
The students will do a follow up session to discuss what they learned during the trip as they continue to discuss the Civil Rights Movement in class.