Sarah Ford | May 26, 2015

The Impact of Vietnam Project-Based Learning

By Melanie Lowry

“‘Project-based learning’ is the new buzzword in education that our school is encouraging teachers to use”, said Laura Forde, a social studies teacher at Bismarck High School in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Forde never estimated just how impactful this new project-based learning curriculum would be.  Her use of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Hometown Heroes curriculum has affected students, teachers, veterans from Bismarck, military families, and even Members of Congress.

Last year, Forde visited Washington, D.C. to attend educator training and workshops with the help of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and the Close Up Foundation, an organization that supports teachers and students in visiting the nation’s capital.

While in Washington, Forde attended a VVMF teacher workshop at the National Park Service’s collection facility. The facility holds over 400,000 artifacts that have been left at the Vietnam Memorial since 1984 “I remember being at the warehouse, and thinking ‘I’m one of the few people that ever gets to see this,’” said Forde.

The Hometown Heroes curriculum was also presented to the teachers at the workshop. The curriculum aims to connect students and veterans in their own communities through various service learning projects related to the Vietnam War. Elements of the curriculum include projects aimed at gathering information and photos of veterans, and taking class trips to memorials.

Forde’s return to Bismarck from Washington D.C. sparked many changes in her current history curriculum. Inspired by both the collections facility and project ideas from Hometown Heroes, Forde constructed a project serving to honor local ND veterans whose names are listed on the Vietnam Memorial. 

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