The Damariscotta Montessori School middle-school students — seventh- and eighth-graders – recently had the chance to experience the roots of American civics and history firsthand. As part of their curriculum, the students embark on a one-week excursion to study American history on-site each year.
This year, the students traveled to Washington, D.C. and visited an incredible array of historic sites. On their itinerary were: the U.S. Capitol, the National Gallery, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, the National Mall monuments, the National Zoo, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, there was also plenty of time spent at the Smithsonian museums, including the Museum of American History, Asian and African museums of art, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Museum of Natural History.
The DMS middle-schoolers traveled to Washington, D.C. by bus and by train, and stayed at a youth hostel just a few blocks from the National Mall. They met students from all over the world during their stay.
During the visit, the students had a chance to meet Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who gave the students a tour of her office and discussed her role as a U.S. senator. She fielded questions from the students and talked about some current events with them, including the 2020 presidential election.
Montessori education involves hand-on experiential learning. At the middle school level, the students experience the curriculum through going out into the larger community to do research, educational activities, and meet with experts in particular fields of study. Rather than using field trips and excursions as “extras,” Montessori classrooms use these experiences to ignite curiosity and imagination that will lead to further independent research in the classroom.
“We spend a lot of time in the Montessori classroom giving context to the children’s learning. From using hands-on materials to connecting studies to the real world, students are given the opportunity to understand the ‘whys’ behind their work,” said Samantha Mehlhorn, DMS middle-school teacher.
“Students who have graduated from DMS remember these trips for years. During the eight days we are gone, we are moving and learning nonstop,” said DMS Head of School Chip DeLorenzo. “It is also one of the rights of passage in their experience here at the school, and bonds the students in a way that is significant and long-lasting. This allows them to successfully work and socialize together throughout the year at what can be a very tumultuous time of life.”
For more information on Damariscotta Montessori School, go to damariscottamontessori.org.