2005-05-20 / News

Mackinac State Historic Parks Creates Kids’ Web Site

By Leslie Rott

  • A new Web site section, Mackinac for Kids, was unveiled Wednesday, May 4, by Mackinac State Historic Parks, allowing school children to research the historic aspects of a planned trip before they arrive.
  • The section, which is reached through the agency’s mackinacparks.com site, offers children a variety of ways to experience the historic Mackinac region. At the home page, children can choose from the links “homework help,” “student showcase,” “online activities,” and “virtual Mackinac.”

    The “homework help” section provides students with information, pictures ,and other resources on Fort Mackinac, Colonial Michilimackinac, Historic Mill Creek, and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

    Museum educator Katie Cederholm said the park receives many frantic calls from parents requesting information for their children's projects. She said homework help pages are intended to make that information easily accessible, although parents and children are still welcome to call or e-mail requests for information.

    In the “student showcase” section, students who have completed projects about the historic Mackinac region are given the opportunity to submit their poems, stories, pictures of models they have built, and any other creative projects, where they will be displayed for other students to see.

    The “online activity” section offers children the chance to experience the historic Mackinac region in a fun and exciting way. Such activities include “Music of Mackinac,” “Continental Checkers,” “Artifacts Online,” “Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse,” “Voyageur Adventure,” “Dress Up Mackinac,” “William Beaumont Experiments,” and “Quiz O’ Rama.”

    “Music of Mackinac” plays a variety of songs and historic stories. In “Continental Checkers,” children are given the opportunity to play checkers “the historical way.” The rules are a bit different and the board has thirty-six more squares than the modern version. “Artifacts Online” is a guessing game in which players are shown pictures of artifacts, and based on multiple choice, must choose what the artifact was used for. “Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse” allows children to explore the lighthouse and view its blueprint.

    “Voyageur Adventure” allows children to choose their own adventure game, to travel from the St. Lawrence River to historic Michilimackinac, leaving the fate of the canoe and its crew in the hands of the player. While trying to complete the journey, the player is provided with historical tidbits, making the game both fun and educational. The “Dress Up Mackinac” game allows players to choose a character and then choose the correct outfit that the person would have worn in history.

    Once a character is dressed appropriately, the player is given a description of the person whom they have just created. “William Beaumont Experiments” gives children the opportunity to learn about the story and digestive discoveries of Dr. William Beaumont. Children are also able to help Dr. Beaumont on his road to discovery by bandaging St. Martin’s wound and feeding him through his stomach. After spending time learning about the historic Mackinac region, “Quiz O’ Rama” allows children to test their knowledge of the area.

    The new section of the Park’s Web site, said Ms. Cederholm, was built from some of the exhibits that Mackinac State Historic Parks already provides, but some was newly inspired to spark children's interest in the history of Michigan.

    The new section, she said, is intended for both adults and children, to be used both in the classroom and at home. Ms. Cederholm said that because so many more people are using the Internet as a resource, Mackinac State Historic Parks wanted to make some of their resources available there, as well.

    “Our emphasis was to do something online,” she said.

    Last year, Mackinac State Historic Parks received a grant from the Verizon Foundation with which the agency created a Virtual Mackinac site, where visitors are able to take virtual tours of several historic sites in the Mackinac region.

    The creation of the Virtual Mackinac site spurred a staff interest in creating additional information for students. They applied for another grant from the Verizon Foundation and received $9,810 for the Mackinac for Kids project. The grant covers the cost to create the section as well as for its maintenance and updating.

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