The opening of the new Eisenhower Presidential Museum provided IKEducation with the perfect opportunity to supplement the content displayed in the exhibits with hands-on artifacts that engage students and deepen their curiosity. It has been exciting to watch the implementation of our Hands on History carts soar above and beyond our expectations of student interaction.
IKEducators learned through professional development about the use of interactive carts in museums, how to engage students, how to ask inquiry-based questions, and how to choose artifacts for each cart. When selecting artifacts, educators learned they must be intentional about how each artifact can launch a child’s curiosity into motion. The artifacts are meant to be touched in order to engage with a plethora of senses. Students are able smell the laundry soap that was used during the time Ike was a child, feel the leather gloves that a Rosie the Riveter would have worn while working, see (and lift) the difference between thousands of regular letters versus V-Mail letters, and hear Ike’s infectious election jingle, “We like Ike, I like Ike, Everybody likes Ike.”
These artifacts that supplement the new galleries allow history to be held in students’ hands. It provides an opportunity for their minds to wonder and be curious. IKEducators probe visiting students with inquiry-based questions to help them connect the dots of history. By making their own connections, students will have a more memorable experience.
While envisioning our first Hands on History cart, Rosie the Riveter, we felt having authentic riveted pieces of metal would be a wonderful tool for students to see how rivets worked. Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, answered the call, donating four panels made from the cutout window panes of a 747 plane. Two panels have a variety of rivets of different sizes. The other two panels have a picture of the World War II airplane, “Doc,” and Connie Palacioz, a real life Rosie. The thoughtful donation from Spirit AeroSystems allows our Hands on History cart to help students from a different generation conceptualize the significance of Rosie the Riveter during World War II.
We are excited to continue expanding our Hands on History carts. We currently offer four interactive carts: Rosie the Riveter, I Like Ike, V-Mail, and Ike’s Boyhood Chores. Our goal is to be able to provide a cart in each gallery of the Eisenhower Presidential Museum.