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Educational Tours and Youth Programs at the Baltimore Museum of Industry

The Baltimore Museum of Industry has programs specifically designed to reach out to children. The BMI gives students the chance to step back in time to the early days of our historic port city. Each program provides a hands-on experience in which students must make decisions, overcome problems and work together to accomplish their goals.

One of the most revered student programs is the Kid’s Cannery, which won the Dibner Award for Excellence in a Museum Exhibit in 1992. At “The Cannery,” students are introduced to working life in a 19th century oyster cannery. “At the Cannery, each student assumes the life of a specific cannery worker and takes on the responsibilities of his/her position,” explains Ellie Elgin, director of educational tours and youth programs at the BMI. “Some of the students assume the roles of skilled workers such as printers, labelers and clerks, while others play the roles of unskilled workers such as shuckers and dock loaders.” Each student receives wages that vary according to position. Each student is required to pay for food and rent from these wages. The “Cannery” program includes two shifts so that each student gets a change to compare the lifestyles of skilled workers to those of the unskilled workers. This is one of the BMI’s most popular programs.

Another program offered at the BMI is The Garment Loft. In The Garment Loft students will assume the roles of 1929 garment loft workers. Each student is given a name and a personal background that includes information such as wages, education, ethnic background, financial status and marital status. Students are assigned roles that range from factory owner to a factory worker and everything in between. The experience becomes even more realistic when the students are split into two separate groups; the union workers and the management staff. A round of labor negotiations follow as the management team and union members try to reach an agreement. Some times these negotiations end in a strike, sometimes they end in a truce. The results vary for each class.

Other educational programs offered at the BMI include The Pocket Shop (where students assume the roles of garment workers) and The Kid’s Motor Works Assembly line. Each program is designed for a specific age group and incorporates various levels of academic skill. These programs meet statewide performance goals and present multiple interactive learning experiences that will inspire future leaders of tomorrow in the fields of mathematics, technology and the social sciences.

To find out more about the educational programs offered at the BMI contact Ellie Elgin, the tour coordinator at (410) 727-4808 ext. 117.

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