Much of my time this past week has been spent in the gift shop and due to unseasonably cold weather, visitation is still slow. Monday, however, was very busy. A group of ninety second graders visited the lighthouse on a field trip. This was the highlight of my week. Because there were so many guests all at once, the children were divided into four groups (this worked out well since there were four classes). One class was in the lighthouse, one class was in the gift shop getting an ice cream treat, one class learned about area wildlife, and the final group were able to polish Petoskey stones.
I was in charge of the Petoskey stone station. First, I told the second graders about Petoskey stones (they are the Michigan state fossil, and are fossils of coral that grew in this area over 350 million years ago when Michigan was covered in salt water). Then, each student received a Petoskey stone and used a Q-Tip to polish it with mineral oil. It was very fun to see their reactions when the pattern was revealed – there were many ooooooh’s and aaaaaah’s.
The most interesting thing that I learned from leading this center is that sometimes doing things the most efficient way is not a good goal. It takes a lot longer for a group of students to go through the lighthouse than it does for the same group to polish Petoskey stones. So, instead of asking the chaperons to help pass out supplies, I was instructed to pass out things out one at a time because that takes longer. Also, instead of having a trash can nearby, the kids had to walk a short distance to throw their trash away. This tactic worked well because while every group finished before the lighthouse was ready for them, they did not finish so early that they were bored.
The other highlight of my week was the small amount of collections work I did. A visitor to the lighthouse noticed that there were not very many books in the bookshelf in our 1939 living room, so this visitor donated a box of old books. I went through the books, made sure that they were all period, and wrote down the publication information to be entered into the museum database at a later time (the lighthouse doesn’t have internet, so records have to be entered at the main office). While I was going through the box, I was very excited to discover that the original Nancy Drew books were period. This was one of my favorite series when I was younger and there are now three of them in the bookshelf at the lighthouse.
I’m also very excited for this weekend, because it is Celebration Days at Tawas Point Lighthouse. This is the lighthouse’s largest festival of the summer and all different kinds of reenactment groups, craftspeople, and vendors will be camping at the lighthouse.