Anvil City Science Academy students record local history
Starting last November, students at Anvil City Science Academy in Nome spent six weeks working on history projects in Mrs. Colleen Johnson’s Social Studies class. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders were assigned the same history project: to interview a community member —either a friend, family member or somebody new— about a significant historical event or topic from the region.
While all grades were given the same assignment, only the older classes took those interviews and recorded them into shareable podcasts, or digital audio/video files, complete with introductions, a hook and a great story.
“It’s hard to explain the project, since it wasn’t a traditional project,” ACSA Social Studies teacher Colleen Johnson told The Nome Nugget in an interview last week, who explained how students chose a significant event or topic from Nome’s history to interview a family member about.
Besides researching and discovering some local history, Johnson said the students had to use various skills and techniques for the project that can help them develop great job skills for the future. “That’s something we [at ACSA] really try to provide; these opportunities for job skills,” said Johnson.
Students modeled their podcasts off of KNOM radio’s Story49 series. The students recorded introductions, a hook, and then narrated throughout the recorded interview to tell their story. Most of the podcasts are around five minutes long.
Jenae Matson, an eighth grader at ACSA, told The Nome Nugget about her project. Matson interviewed her father, Tony Matson, about his recollection of The Friendship Flight in 1988 when Alaska Airlines flew to Provideniya, Russia. Matson said she learned a lot from interviewing her father, who works at Bering Air, and especially, liked learning about the interactions between Russia and America at the time.
“Russia had closed its borders, then after [the Friendship Flight] families were reunited again,” said Matson, sharing the coolest thing she learned from completing her project. Besides learning about a significant event in history and how it affected the region, Matson also learned a lot about her parents, including memories and interesting facts from their lives.
Overall, teacher Johnson said the project was successful, with topics ranging from more recent historical events to topics of historical interest in the region. For example, project topics included commercial fishing, the building of the Kuzitrin Road, the King Island relocation, the storm of 1974, gold mining, aviation, dog mushing, Inupiaq culture and many others.
While the six-week project was a huge undertaking for both students and teacher alike, Johnson said she would definitely do it again for future students.
“It was a pretty powerful project,” Johnson said, and emphasized the importance of creating living historical documents for the region. “We live in a small community with great history,” she said. “But that history won’t be recorded unless our children are recording it.”
Click on the following links to hear the podcasts: