News / USA

Students Make Movies to Experience US History

Students Make Movies to Experience US Historyi
X
February 19, 2014 6:28 PM
There's nothing like experiencing history to understand it. So instead of reading about the U.S. Civil War in textbooks, some schoolchildren in Virginia are taking a hands-on approach to learning about what happened in their area. They are creating videos related to the conflict, in which the northern Union and southern Confederate states fought over several issues, including slavery, from 1861-1865. Deborah Block has more from Locust Grove, Virginia.
Deborah Block
There's nothing like experiencing history to understand it. So instead of reading about the U.S. Civil War in textbooks, some schoolchildren in Virginia are taking a hands-on approach to learning about what happened in their area. They are creating videos related to the conflict, in which the northern Union and southern Confederate states fought over several issues, including slavery, from 1861-1865. 

The young filmmakers re-enact American history, where it happened. In one scene children portray two Union generals, meeting at the Rapidan River in central Virginia.

The 12- and 13-year-olds are producing a mini-video -- or vodcast -- on the key role temporary pontoon bridges played during the war.  Transported by soldiers, the bridges consisted of small boats tied together with planks on top.  After building and crossing a pontoon bridge on the Rapidan, Union soldiers defeated a Confederate army in the Battle of the Wilderness. 

Shane Lohr, who played one of the generals, learned the bridges provided big advantages for the armies because they could set them up quickly.

“They took wagons, horses, and all the soldiers across the bridges, and once everyone crossed it they took it apart and brought it with them,” Lohr said.

The scene is in one of several videos relating to the Civil War being produced by local school children. The project is sponsored by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, which raises awareness of historical sites from Pennsylvania to Virginia, including many Civil War battlegrounds.

Jessie Aucoin, the group's Educational Programs Director, said the vodcasts are put to good use.

“We can upload [them] on the Internet and teachers across the country, and arguably, across the world, can then use them in their own classrooms," Aucoin said.

With help from advisors, the children also research, write, and edit the videos. Alexis Albert got a chance to try out directing and learned a lot about Civil War history in the process.

“It helps me more as a student understand it more than reading a book and looking at words,” he said.

In another scenario, students portray soldiers who are marching to the river with muskets. Today, the area is part of a national military park. 

Park Educational Coordinator Peter Maugle shows the children how to hold the fake musket.   
 
“Hopefully they will understand why these places are important through projects and programs like this, and they will make an effort to go ahead and keep these places preserved for future generations,” he said.

Another backdrop for the videos is nearby Ellwood Manor, the plantation where much of the Battle of the Wilderness was fought. At this location another group of children is focusing on the diary of a woman who lived in the region during the war.

Student director John Ashley says the experience has made him think more about the human aspect of the war.

“In history books, you read about the battles and that sort of stuff.  I learned a little bit more about the people who were living here at this time,” said Ashley.

Filmmaker Ghil Hong donated his time to help the students, who he said have caught on quickly.

“They are trying to convey the emotions that might have been conveyed back during the Civil War.  They really focus on wanting the story to be accurate,” Hong added.

The vodcasts will be available in May, and - like student videos produced over the past four years - can be viewed on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground website and on YouTube.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid