The Minnesota Historical Society Announces Education Milestone of Reaching 10,000 In-State Students With Award-Winning History Live Lessons

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 25, 2013
Media contacts: 

Julianna Olsen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3039 •

Suzanne Herrick • Fedoruk & Associates, Inc. • 651-861-7807 •

Quick facts: 


The Minnesota Historical Society Announces Education Milestone of Reaching 10,000 In-State Students With Award-Winning History Live Lessons

Society sets a national example for innovative, interactive history education;
“The Dred Scott Family & the National Debate Over Slavery” is the latest lesson to join the Society’s roster of video conferencing lessons

The Minnesota Historical Society is transforming students’ lives by combining history with technology via its unique, award-winning History Live program. The Society today announced it has reached a major milestone with the program: more than 10,000 Minnesota students from across the state have participated in a History Live interactive video conferencing lesson since the program began in 2010 – without leaving their classroom. The Society also announced a new lesson geared specifically toward students in grades 9-12, “The Dred Scott Family & the National Debate Over Slavery.” A video showing History Live in action is available at

“We know history can transform lives. Thanks to funding from the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, our History Live program brings high-quality, educational lessons based on history to classrooms well beyond our walls,” said Wendy Jones, head of education programs at the Minnesota History Center. “Educators comment that kids retain and remember the content extremely well, while kids love the interactivity – hands-on lessons and the sense of going back in time to discover what history can teach us.”

History Live Offers More than 10 Lessons for Grades 2-12
From the “Loons and Lady Slippers: All About Minnesota” lesson to the popular “Inventions that Changed the Nation,” the History Live program offers more than 10 high-quality lessons that meet state and national academic standards. The lessons are supported with interdisciplinary curricular materials that can be downloaded for free at the History Live website.

History Live Gets Students Out of Their Seats and Into the Past
Each lesson is designed with different learning styles in mind, encouraging kids to see, hear, repeat and act with hands-on activities. For example, in the “Inventions that Changed the Nation” students are encouraged to re-enact the dynamics of a car crash in their classroom in order to study the scientific method and the invention of the retractable seat belt. In the latest lesson, “The Dred Scott Family & The National Debate Over Slavery,” students are encouraged to use their critical thinking skills to re-write the infamous Dred Scott decision in eight words. Using, a virtual avatar is created to read the students' words back to them. This avatar is published to the web for students and teachers to share, revisit and incorporate into other classroom activities.

“It was an entertaining way to learn. We have not tried anything like this before. The students enjoyed the lesson,” said Linda Hoffman, 6th grade teacher, James Knoll Elementary in Ortonville, Minn. “I've learned that with just a little time on my part, great programming can be brought to our rural students.”

Using interactive video conferencing (IVC), students are virtually connected to the Society’s classrooms and a trained educator, often dressed in period attire. IVC is live, two-way audio and visual communication between two locations using equipment. Students can see and hear the person on the TV and the person on TV can see and hear the students. Most school districts in Minnesota already have IVC equipment. If not, the Society can work with schools to help them gain access to the necessary video conferencing equipment.

Latest History Live Lesson Geared Specifically Toward High School Students
“The Dred Scott Family & the National Debate Over Slavery” takes students on a journey of critical thinking to discover how one family’s desire to secure its freedom collided with the nation’s debate over slavery. With help from a trained educator at the Minnesota Historical Society and their own smartphone or tablet technology, students examine primary resources and explore issues leading to the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. Students are encouraged to use and share their own smartphone or tablet technology to follow along and interact.
The History Live program is the recipient of the Pinnacle award in 2011 and 2012. Presented annually, the Pinnacle award is based on teacher evaluations submitted through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration website and recognizes outstanding performance by a content provider.
History Live lessons are available for educators to order at or via e-mail at Educators can try it for free with a Free Teacher Demo or with the “Loons and Lady Slippers” lesson. Each History Live lesson is $75 for schools in Minnesota and $120 for schools outside of Minnesota.

History Live is made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.

Legacy logo

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.