Sixty Howe seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. The Museum and memorial were established to remember and honor those who were killed, those who survived, and those who were affected by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was home to 17 federal agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Social Security Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It also housed the America’s Kids Day Care. More than 450 people worked in the building, and numerous civilians visited the building daily.
National Park System Ranger Amanda Cooper led students on a tour through the outdoor memorial. The symbolic memorial is on the grounds where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood. Chairs are placed in the same spots where the victims died. Different size chairs represent the children and adults killed during the bombing.
The final stop of the outdoor memorial tour was the Survivor Tree. More than 100 years old, the tree has lived through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, disease, fires, and the bombing, which left glass and other debris stuck in its bark.
Students participated in a STEM activity where they become crime scene investigators and helped solve the worst case of domestic terrorism on American soil. They worked individually and in teams to collect and analyze evidence critical to the prosecution and ultimate conviction of those responsible for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
Students ended the day on a self-guided tour through the Museum, which offers an interactive learning experience. The Museum is divided into different sections describing the timeline of events. Students learned about the events leading up to, during, the weeks after, and the years after the bombing.
Students watched an introductory video about the Museum, and then listened to a recording of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board meeting taking place just across the street from the Murrah Building that began at 9 am. Two minutes into the meeting, the first sounds of the bombing are heard.
The next section of the Museum offered viewing of live news coverage as well as debris found at the scene. Students viewed a stirring video of survivors who shared their recollections of the events. Immediate and continued rescue efforts were made. Rescue crews from all across the nation helped during the time. Two weeks after the bombing, search and rescue shifted to search and recovery.
At the end of the tour, students visited a gallery of honor that remembers each person killed during the bombing. The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people and orphaned 30 children. In this room families display personal photographs and artifacts of their loved ones.
“Educational tours are an important part of Eastern’s GEAR UP program,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Tara Martin.
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.