If the McKinley kids seem especially knowledgeable about history, it’s because the entire fifth-grade class recently returned from an all-day field trip to the African-American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.
“This is the only such museum in the state of Iowa,” said McKinley fifth-grade teacher Ta Rae Evans, “and we thought the field trip would be a perfect way to conclude our social studies unit on Black History Month.”
February is Black History Month, but never mind. During the March 20 trip, students had a chance to learn about famed inventor and educator George Washington Carver as well as tackle the issue of slavery in an interactive program called “Doorways.”
Jordan Nelson said he was astonished that slaves were permitted only one meal a day. “I know I couldn’t live that way,” he said.
“What surprised me was that kids weren’t allowed to own shoes until they were 12 years old,” said Tina Brown. “I’m only 11, and I know I love shoes. Well .&nsbp;. . (fashion) boots, actually.”
Even for a 30-year elementary teaching veteran like [Kris] Flewelling, the trip proved to be a real eye-opener.
“I had no idea Iowa played such a significant role in the Underground Railroad,” she said. “Plus, I was actually a student at Iowa State University and had no idea the role George Washington Carver played in ISU’s history!”