Pearl Harbor visits go virtual during pandemic

Veterans Voices

At the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged some of the spaces and museums dedicated to honoring, and remembering our war heroes. But the staff has found a new way to educate people around the world.

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“Imagine a car flying in the air and just from that they’re like, I want to learn more, what else can you teach me?” explained Westin Saito, a Pacific Historic Parks Education Team Member.

A simple description…with the help of technology….is going a long way for the Pacific Historic Parks.

“Our mission is to honor, remember and understand, that’s the best way to think about it,” said Aileen Utterdyke, the President and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks. “Our goal is to ensure that history during World War II in the Pacific, that portion is not forgotten.”

The organization supports significant historical sites in the Pacific, including locations on Oahu and Guam. They are trying to preserve the memory and events of people for future generations. But fulfilling that mission hasn’t been the same.

“The pandemic has limited access to history at our parks and instead of people coming to the parks and instead of people coming to the parks to learn, we’re sharing our knowledge with them,” Utterdyke explained.

So the education team has designed this app, to conduct virtual field trips, focusing on students worldwide, in grades three through 12.

“Imagine being on the deck of the USS Arizona in December before the attack on Pearl Harbor,” said Saito. “And we’re going to the USS Arizona itself which is open but we can’t really have too many people out there.”

There’s narration to go along with vivid images….as well as opportunities for students to interact.

“We love to use interpretive resources so say for the USS Arizona, she could fire a shell the weight of a small car from anywhere in Pearl Harbor over Waikiki over Diamond Head and when you see a kid on Oahu and they know the landscape and they’re like wait, what?” said Saito.

The Pacific Historic Parks wants to build a bond with the younger generation…hoping to educate them and raise their curiosity and interest. In turn, they hope the students share their new knowledge and intrigue with their families. So people, young and old, can talk about the past and never forget the places and people, of this important piece of history.

For more information about the virtual field trips at Pearl Harbor National Memorial, visit HTTPS://VIRTUALFIELDTRIP.COM/ or https://virtualfieldtrip.com/fieldtrips/uss-arizona-360-pearl-harbor-and-the-start-of-wwii.

There are several other sites at Pearl Harbor that share important history lessons. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park recently reopened after a months long closure due to COVID-19. You can find out more here { https://www.bowfin.org/ }.

The Battleship Missouri Memorial at Ford Island remains closed. {Https://ussmissouri.org/# }

And the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum also remains closed. It also recently launched virtual classroom visits. Supervised by a Museum educator, each Virtual Classroom Visit includes an introduction of the topic, an online learning activity, a real-time question and answer session, and follow-up activities for the teacher. Lessons were developed in collaboration with the National WWII Museum, the U.S. Naval Academy STEM Outreach Center, Chaminade University, and interns from Hawaii Technology Academy.

Designed by the world-class educators at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Virtual Classroom Visits are available to all schools and youth organizations, and are aligned with state and national standards.

“The ability to enrich student learning by serving teachers and providing them with a standards-based opportunity is central to our mission and commitment to support our community,” said Dr. Monica San Jose, Senior Manager, Education Programs, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

Visit www.PearlHarborAviationMuseum.org/virtual-classroom-visits to book your Virtual Classroom Visit, connect with an educator or learn more.

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