RCHS and partner Saint Paul City School created a successful summer program that not only significantly lessened the “summer slide,” but also connected students to history and community.

Investigate MN!

Students from Investigate MN! at RCHS' Annual Celebration at CHS Field in Saint Paul.
Students and educators from Investigate MN! at RCHS’ Annual Celebration at CHS Field in Saint Paul.

During the summer of 2015, the Ramsey County Historical Society (RCHS), in partnership with St. Paul City School, created Investigate MN!, a six-week, museum-based summer school program.

Terry Swanson, Gibbs Farm Site Manager, demonstrating a Dakota drum with a student.
Terry Swanson, Gibbs Farm Site Manager, demonstrating a Dakota drum with a student.

During the program’s six weeks, the students visited the Gibbs Farm, the Science Museum of Minnesota, The Bell Museum of Natural History, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Students spent Monday through Thursday at the museums and in their classrooms at the Saint Paul City School experiencing history, art and science. They worked on projects that helped them explore what they had seen and experienced in very personal ways. These projects helped them connect to their community and continue their educational progress throughout the summer.

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The Investigate MN! educational results were impressive:
• Summer learning losses were 51% less in participants than non-participating students.
• Participants’ reading comprehension loss was cut in half.
• 91% of students are now writing at grade level compared to 14% at the beginning of the program.


Even beyond the educational results, the program engaged the students in learning about local history, and relating that history to their own experiences and to those of their families, connecting them to Minnesota and their communities in a deeply felt manner. Every student used historical inquiry to discover authentic connections between their lives and Minnesota history, as shown in their final projects and post-program testing. Students made connections between their family’s lives as immigrants and farmers and the daily lives of settlers and pioneers, between the displacement of their grandparents from the Rondo neighborhood during the building of the I94 corridor and the displacement of the Dakota, and created other, personal connections between themselves, each other, and history.

For more information about Investigate MN! and our other initiatives and projects, contact us.

Investigate MN! press release.