Region 8 kids can step into the wild frontier

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Region 8 children can step back in time and become frontier settlers on the plains of Arkansas.

A new and exciting exhibit is now open at Arkansas State University's Museum.

Boys and girls may choose to be a pioneer, settler or traveler who just stepped foot onto an unsettled land.

After being dressed in the appropriate attire to go along with their character, they're given money to buy items they think they'll need on their journey at the Trading Post.

Next, they're off on an educational adventure they won't soon forget.

Director of the ASU Museum, Dr. Marti Allen, says this interactive exhibit was made possible through a grant from the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

"Museums of this size don't often get a financial opportunity like this," Allen said. "Not only did this grant fund the creation and installation of all these new exhibit components, it also funded a year's salary for our Tour Coordinator."

Allen says they were thrilled to get the opportunity to bring this to local kids.

"This is a really exciting exhibit for us because it fills a time gap in our gallery that's been there for a while," Allen said. "It's a time period that involves the settlement and exploration of Arkansas by early Europeans. This gap is now filled with children friendly exhibits that are all hands on and support science, technology, engineering and math."

This new exhibit called, Arkansas Frontier: 1540 - 1840, involves a wide variety of engaging activities.

"It involves children in hands on things," Allen said enthusiastically. "Things that help them learn about science technology, engineering and math. For example, we have a trading post where each child is given forty coins to decide what supplies they're going to ration to take with them on their journey. Then they take a trip over to the Wheel of Fate."

At this exhibit kids spin a wheel to see if their fate is one of fortune or doom.

"We're really hitting the cognitive bulls eye here," Allen said.  "Things happen which makes kids think very deeply about consequences. Something happens to them on their imaginary journey and they have to decide how they're going to deal with that and problem solving skills are put into play. So, we disguise learning as fun here."

Not only do the exhibits good for the kids, Allen says they're good for teachers.

"It does give teachers a good opportunity," Allen stated. "They can meet the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks in a fun way for their kids. We have lesson plans that are already built for them and all they have to do is take advantage of it."

Education Curator for the ASU Museum, Jill Kary, says this journey does something else for the kids who go through it.

It sparks their imagination and opens the doors into history.

"Many people who live in this area had folks already here," Kary said.  "They're able to step in the shoes of their ancestors and see some of the things they were maybe able to see and to learn some of the things they had to go through."

The ASU Museum is open on Tuesdays from 9am to 7pm.

It's also open Wednesday though Saturday from 9am to 5pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.

These exhibits are free and open to the public.

For more information about the ASU Museum, log onto this website.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.