BALTIMORE — Fifth grade students at Charlesmont Elementary School were among the first Maryland students to receive a Star-Spangled experience with the newly-launched War of 1812 virtual resource center, warof1812.thinkport.org. Taking a “first-person” approach to the War of 1812, students dove into a modern-day history lesson featuring Hold the Fort, an interactive game about the bombardment of Fort McHenry and other engaging classroom resources. Sen. Ben Cardin and representatives from Maryland Public Television, the National Park Service, the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, and the Fort McHenry Guard joined students and educators to recognize the debut of the new suite of classroom resources on Thinkport.org.
“Thinkport is an exciting project because it demonstrates how students will learn in the future using interactive techniques that will help them understand and experience what the War of 1812 was really like and why it was so important to our nation,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. “This new learning tool is funded by the Department of Education as a way to help history come alive for our students.”
“I see students who are excited because the lessons are interactive and fun,” said Charlesmont Fifth Grade Teacher Kelly Martin. “Everything I need to teach is right here in one place, including primary resource documents like letters or journals from the war.”
To support the three-year bicentennial commemoration and to ensure that every student has a Star-Spangled experience, Maryland organizations joined together to create this online gateway of free resources spotlighting the people, places and events significant to the War of 1812.
“We are delighted to be part of this important education collaborative and bring Maryland’s proud history to classrooms across the state,” said Larry Unger president and chief executive officer at MPT. “MPT continues to provide War of 1812 content and programming to educate and entertain our audience.”
A favorite activity for the students was playing “Hold the Fort,” an interactive game on the site that invites students to relive the Battle of Baltimore and the bombardment of Fort McHenry. “It’s important that we commemorate Maryland’s contributions to the defense of a nation during the War of 1812,” said Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. “The interactive nature of the game makes this period in history relevant for today’s youth.”
“This Thinkport resource significantly advances the National Park Service mission to educate with leading-edge technologies,” said John Maounis, superintendent of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. “And it’s exciting to partner with MPT, Fort McHenry, and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to accomplish something so valuable for educators everywhere.”
The Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission was established by Gov. Martin O’Malley, the commission is staffed by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Division of Tourism Film and the Arts. The bicentennial period runs from June 2012 through February 2015. It commemorates Maryland’s unique contributions to the defense and heritage of the nation, including the pivotal battle that led to an American victory and the birth of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” For more information: visit http://www.starspangled200.org.