Supply Line brings First World War to life for students
A scratchy wool cap, a menacing piece of rusty barbed wire, and a hundred-year-old artillery shell that a lonely soldier transformed into trench art. These are the kinds of objects high school students normally read about in textbooks.
But students in Katie Wilson's history class are getting hands-on time with artifacts from the First World War as part of a program meant to educate youth about Canada’s involvement in the conflict.
Simone Boivin, a grade 10 student at the North Toronto Collegiate Institute, says this kind of hands-on learning makes the war easier to relate to.
Listen to Simone Boivin
Supply Line is a program put on by the Canadian War Museum to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.
Over the next four years, hundreds of schools across Canada will be loaned one of 25 “First World War Discovery Boxes” for two weeks. At the schools, students in grades four to 12 will get to interact with the artifacts as part of their history classes.
Supply Line also gives students access to old photos, recruitment ads from the time of the war as well as paintings depicting the trenches.
The project is intended to make Canada's history more accessible across the country, says Sandra O'Quinn, a learning specialist at the Canadian War Museum who organizes the Supply Line program.
Listen to Sandra O'Quinn
"We don't have veterans of the First World War anymore," O'Quinn says, so teaching through artifacts from the war is the next best thing.
For other students, like Minjae Kim, Supply Line helps convey the seriousness of the war.
He says, while artifacts are fun to explore, Supply Line has helped him gain a more realistic view of an event that is "sometimes glorified by movies that we watch."
Listen to Minjae Kim
Kim's classmate Bethany May says Supply Line has taught her to think more critically about the events of the war.
"It wasn't black and white," May says of her views on the First World War, before trying on a war-era gas mask. "It was somewhere in the middle."
Listen to Bethany May
But Supply Line doesn't just benefit students. Teacher Katie Wilson says the program makes it easier to inspire students to learn about history.
The War Museum, she says, should create similar programs for other conflicts taught about in schools.
Listen to Katie Wilson