Watsons Visit the STEM Lab
Students in grades 4 and 5 at the Academy study United States History. Fourth graders begin their study with Exploration of the New World and finish at the end of the American Civil War. Fifth graders begin their study at Reconstruction following the Civil War and end their study in the present. The students are using primary and secondary sources in their studies, and these primary sources are packaged in trunks, suitcases, hatboxes, barrels, and crates. Their travels are guided by the journal of Victoria Bailey Watson, the wife of William Norman Watson.
William Norman Watson of Greenville and Victoria Bailey of Greer married at the turn of the century, and later they set up residence in the Hampton Pinckney area of Greenville. To celebrate their wedding, they toured the United States in chronological order starting with the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, and it is during this tour that they collected letters, diaries, documents, artifacts, photographs, and clothing that represent key elements of each period of American History. During this tour, Mrs. Watson kept a meticulous diary of their adventures, and it is this diary that helps direct the students through the history contained within the traveling gear.
Following the reading of each entry, specific pieces of luggage are opened, and within each trunk, students are presented with key documents, artifacts, and clothing that exemplifies each period. For example, during the colonial period in American History, indentured servitude was one way for anyone who needed passage from England to start a new life in the colonies. As students read about the apprentice and the indentured servant, they are introduced to Richard Frethorne, an indentured servant in Virginia. The voice of this seventeenth century indentured servant comes alive to give a deeper understanding of his plight.