Just as a refresher, for our 100 th birthday, the Garden Club of Denver raised funds from our membership to embark on an educational program celebrating Colorado’s national parks and monuments, which happened to coincide with the National Parks’ 100 thAnniversary.
Together with History Colorado, we produced a map highlighting Colorado’s national parks and monuments, four videos on our national parks and a website complete with additional information and lesson plans. All of these were geared towards third and fourth grade students, whose curriculum includes Colorado history.
The website and videos went up and continue to be viewed and used. We also printed about 3,500 maps. Some were distributed by staff at the national parks and monuments and most (2,000) by History Colorado to teachers who brought their classes to the museum.
This fall, to determine the success of the project, Garden Club of Denver initiated an email survey with History Colorado, using their list of 3,500 Colorado teachers. Simple questions were asked to determine whether the map had been received, used etc…and if so had it been helpful. Many had received the map and were currently using it. For those who were familiar and using the map, approximately 35% were using online resources, and 15% the online lesson plans. We also found out that there was high interest in the videos, but a district firewall prevented some schools from viewing them. When asked if they received a map when visiting History Colorado, 85% said yes.
Our last question of the survey asked teachers to share any observations or stories about their students’ interest in the national parks and monuments after using the map.
A few responses were:
- “Well done; pictures were a great addition.”
- “Any maps increase our students interest in the parks and monuments.”
- “Students are very engaged and love learning about where they live.”
- “They really love surveying each other on which ones they had been to and which ones they want to go to.”
- “Students are making connections about the different national parks and sharing their experiences.”
Some real positives came from our initiative:
- After the survey went out, the project gained even more traction and renewed interest, and the museum has enough maps to see us through 2018.
- The survey also has elicited new interest in videos and Website.
- Teachers who have not received maps are asking for them.
Where do we go from here? The Garden Club of Denver has committed $1,000 to sponsor one classroom on a field trip to History Colorado. Transportation is an issue for many schools and expensive. With the remaining funds, we propose to print a sticker of a smaller version of the map highlighting the four Colorado national parks. These stickers would be approximately 4.5 x 3.5 inches and would be handed out to the 40,000 students that visit the museum over the course of a school year.
The Centennial Celebration Project Committee believes that the project will continue to educate students on Colorado’s national parks and their value. Each student will take a sticker home and hopefully stick it on a tablet or computer, water bottle or wall. We hope to encourage a generation of Colorado kids to appreciate and visit our amazing national parks and monuments.