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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora