After a friend showed Thom Adorney, a retired Colorado schoolteacher, an antique whaling journal written by an ancestor in the 1850s, Mr. Adorney had a great idea: why not give students at the local Ute Meadows Elementary School the unique opportunity to unlock history for themselves?
For over a year now, that’s exactly what students have been doing. The entire journal was photographed and students have been diligently transcribing its contents and recreating a map of the three year journey by entering navigational points onto Google Earth. The students expect to finish the transcription and map by the end of the month and, upon completion, their work will be published by the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. (The museum notes that over 14,000 whaling journals were created but most were lost over time.)
Mr. Adorney is ecstatic that the children have been so engaged in the project and that they are actually participating in history rather than just learning about it. ”Teachers always struggle to make history come alive for kids,” he said. “It doesn’t get any more real than this unless we’re able to transport them back to the time and put them on the deck of the ship.”
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