Weatherford Star-Telegram

Students can connect with history at hands-on museum. But it needs more money to grow

Youngsters enjoy and learn from the education projects at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center. Civic Development, a nonprofit organization in Parker County, is working to raise funds to enhance the hands-on programs.
Youngsters enjoy and learn from the education projects at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center. Civic Development, a nonprofit organization in Parker County, is working to raise funds to enhance the hands-on programs. Special to the Star-Telegram

Education and development often go hand-in-hand.

The organization Civic Development is looking for partners to enhance education projects at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center in Weatherford. The nonprofit organization was the original funding source for the center, and now it is looking to grow the hands-on programs for students.

“Learning about Texas history through hands-on museum education helps children to connect with their past,” Doss Curator Amanda Edwards said. “It helps them learn about ingenuity, perseverance, and grit — all qualities that were necessary to survive on the Texas frontier and are still necessary today.

“Pioneers didn’t give up, even when faced with some tough circumstances. Our programs use situational learning to teach problem solving and allow children to take those lessons and apply them to everyday life experiences.”

The group has set a goal to raise an initial $150,000 this year and continue to raise additional funds in the future. Project goals include creating a sustainable education program, in the schools, and the entire community.

Edwards said hands-on programs are more important than ever in an age inundated with information and technology. She said such programs challenge youngsters to step out of their comfort zone and connect with ideas they learn about in class through artifacts and experiences.

“As a parent I am always looking for ways to get my kids away from their screens and doing something,” she said. “Many of the parents we have met through our programs say the same thing. They come to get their kids out and experiencing the world around them and come away with some great lessons about life, history, and ways they can be more involved.”

Joe Tison, a renowned educator in Parker County, is president of Civic Development. He said such programs are important to growth among the youth in any community. He said the Doss can be the focal point for bringing young people together to learn that their heritage led them to where they are today.

“We want to provide the opportunity for them to explore that heritage and develop their hope for the future. If we inspire their minds, they will make a difference,” he said.

The museum recently celebrated Texas Archeology Month by examining objects found during the excavation of the Newberry Cabin. Children then used what they learned during a lesson on archaeology to excavate a chocolate chip cookie.

“This activity helped us to demonstrate how once you excavate a historic site it is never the same,” Edwards said. “They learned about patience, documentation and connected those concepts by participating in a kinesthetic learning activity. They were no longer just observing history, they were participating.”

Other programs have included a summer day camp titled “Gone to Texas” that told the story of how Texans first came to inhabit the state. There’s also been “History Alive,” which included a stick horse rodeo, and Build Your Own Birdfeeder.

Currently the Doss offers weekly programs for preschool children, and monthly programs for school-age children during the spring and fall. During the summer they offer weekly programs for children of all ages.

As part of the fundraising activities, a gala is set for Nov. 10 at the Doss. The event will celebrate the impact of Weatherford native Mary Martin, a Tony Award winner for playing the original Peter Pan in 1954 on Broadway.

For more information on the Doss, contact 254-485-6605 or development@dosscenter.org.

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