The arrival of fall means that we once again begin hosting groups of school kids at the museum. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of offering a tour to a group of Boy Scouts who were interested in all things nautical. Since time was not of the essence, it allowed us to explore areas of the museum often left untouched by a typical school group.
I have learned that when giving tours to kids, it often helps to have objects available that they can touch. To me, this "hands on learning" really helps me bring home a point. This is especially important when sharing on events that occurred before the student's birth.
Yesterday, I decided to end my tour in the Navel History gallery; this gallery presents a challenge to even our most experienced docents. Displayed within the gallery's walls are artifacts representing two-hundred plus years of history. The question is always what do you share in the remaining seven minutes of your tour?
Keeping with my "hands on learning" approach, I decided to share a little on what life was like on board a ship during World War II. Proudly displayed in the gallery is the bridge of USS Knapp, a destroyer that saw service in both WWII and the Korean War. It never ceases to amaze me how intrigued the students become when they enter the confined space of the bridge. They are truly fascinated by the dizzying array of switches, levers, and dials along with the Captain's chair and the ship's wheel.
As I was watching and listening to the kids, one of them turned to me and inquired as to what was this contraption hanging from the ship's wall. As I drew closer, I realized that he was asking about the rotary style phone. It was one of those times that you realize how old you have become in relation to the rest of world! You have undoubtedly guessed his next question, "How does it work?" I then proceeded to give a quick demonstration; my only regret was that I did not have a camera to record the look of wonder on their faces!