Maplewood Richmond Heights 5th and 6th graders were at the Gateway Arch constructing a museum exhibit. Staff at the Arch museum said this is the first time a school has ever had an exhibit there.
The entire exhibit is student designed. They sent computer files of the graphics to the museuem staff, which produced them. It took three days for the students to assemble the exhibit.
The exhibit is set to open to the public on Thursday, Dec. 20, and remain until Jan. 13.
The following description of the MRH students' work was submitted to Patch.
Through a collaborative partnership with Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, 426 second through sixth grade students from Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary recently had a unique opportunity to learn about the roles and functions of National Park Service museum personnel and how they collect, preserve, document, exhibit and interpret museum artifacts.
The students' experiences were documented through a multi-faceted exhibit they created, called "School as Museum," and starting Dec. 20, the public will have the chance to get a first-hand look at their work when it goes on display in the Museum of Westward Expansion, located below the Gateway Arch. The exhibit will remain on display through Jan. 13.
Through a series of visits to the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse this fall, the students worked alongside NPS staff, exploring museum functions and processes, with the goal of learning more about topics such as the role of a museum curator, how museums collect and protect artifacts, how museum exhibits are designed and how the NPS serves as a steward of natural and cultural resources.
Based on their experiences, students from each grade level were challenged to develop class exhibits on one of five key learning objectives pertaining to museum artifacts. The 2nd graders focused on the collection of artifacts, while the 3rd graders demonstrated their knowledge of exhibiting artifacts. Meanwhile, students from the 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes focused on the preservation, documentation and interpretation of artifacts, respectively.
"The complete 'School as Museum' exhibit represents a great achievement for our students, and we are so proud of the work they've done," said Jason Adams, Principal, Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary.
"We are also very grateful to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the National Park Service for opening their doors to our students and giving them this amazing opportunity for first-hand, real-world learning beyond the walls of our school."
Funding for this unique educational partnership between Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Jefferson National Parks Association was provided by the National Park Foundation through its "America's Best Idea" grant program, which works to fund park projects designed to connect diverse populations nationwide with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways. The Jefferson National Parks Association was one of 49 parks across the U.S. to receive an "America's Best Idea" grant in 2012.
"As the winners of an 'America's Best Idea' grant, we were challenged with developing a partnership that would provide a new population of individuals with a chance to personally connect with us," said Julie Northrip, Director of Education for Jefferson Expansion Memorial.
"These students from Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary represent the next generation of adults who we hope will continue to utilize and explore our grounds with their friends and families for many years to come, and it was very special for us to have the chance to give them an inside look at what the National Park Service is, and what we do. We are incredibly impressed with the exhibit they've created based on their time with us, and encourage the public to come out and see their hard work first-hand."