Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chase goes to the Chicago History Museum

Dr. Jennifer D'Agostino, COT Teaching Artist

I am so excited to be joining the team at Chase Elementary in their second year of Opera for All! We are lucky to have two returning partner teachers, Mr. Dzija and Ms. Martinez, and to introduce the program to a new partner teacher, Mr. Borges. We are already in our 4th week of OFA at Chase! Mr. Michael Orlinsky joins us in Mr. Dzija's morning session and I can tell, he is having a lot of fun! (I love the picture of Mr. Michael Orlinsky as a Chicago Style Hot Dog!)


This week, we took our field trip to the Chicago History Museum. The kids were enthusiastic to learn more about Chicago. I took a lot of pictures to help paint the story of our day.

When I arrived at Chase, I walked to some of the classrooms, to see how everyone was doing. I settled upon Mr. Borges class, because we decided I would help chaperone his group. The kids had their folders out, and asked tons of questions about the scavenger hunt and what they could expect.

When we got to the museum, we were instructed to put our backpacks & lunches in big bins, so that we didn't have to walk them around the exhibits. Some of the kids couldn't even reach inside, so Mr. Dzija and Mr. Borges helped!


After waiting patiently in a cafeteria, and listening to the museum rules, we were ready to take off!


The first room I got to experience was a hands-on exhibit about the sights, sounds and SMELLS of Chicago! There were a lot of really cool things to do in this room! Some kids danced in their own movie, some even tried out being their OWN Chicago hot dog!

There was even a place where you could experience what Chicago smelled like during the time of the early settlers. I won't post a picture of that, but I will tell you that cows highly influenced this smell! It got a really funny response from the students!

A main attraction that we used for our scavenger hunt was in the exhibit labeled "Chicago - Crossroads of America." Upon entering this room, we were greeted by a huge, OLD Chicago train! Everyone got a chance to walk through and experience the train. It was really cool!


The kids really loved looking for the pictures in their hunt, running around, figuring out the name of the artifact and learning more about Chicago history! Some students worked together and many really took their time looking around. There were people throughout the museum set up, to help us experience some hands-on elements. Ms. Martinez' group had about 15 minutes with a museum worker who had them experience the differences in historical Chicago skyscrapers!


We all got to hear live jazz in the Jazz & Blues club, and there were jazz instruments set up for us to see.


Many of my favorite parts of the field trip involved learning more about the Chicago Fire. There was a piece of glass that had melted and the description explained that it had to get up to 1200 degrees in the fire! When I saw the map of Chicago and how much the fire wiped out, I couldn't believe the devastation this left on the city of Chicago. The most impressive part, Mr. Borges explained to his students, is that Chicago rebuilt the city in 20 years in order to host the World's Fair!


After taking our time in the museum, we all walked through the park to find a fun place to eat outside. Mr. Borges' and Mr. Dzija's classes even raced on the soccer field a bit to burn off extra energy!


The next day, I got to go back to Chase to talk to the students about their experiences at the Museum and each class made a Mind Map, centered around "Chicago." While I was impressed with all the classes, Ms. Martinez' class was incredibly insightful, as they remembered stories and details about the things they learned. I felt like I was back in the museum!


I can't wait to hear what stories we make up, revolving around Chicago history for our Opera for All opera plots! I've already heard some cool ideas about incorporating things that we know, or museum elements that interested us most. Will there be a Taki prohibition that creates a race riot in a jazz club? Or perhaps Abe Lincoln comes back to life to fight Al Capone to figure out who started the Chicago Fire? The crazier the better, in my opinion, because I'm excited to hear these creative kids give modern opera librettists a run for their money!


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