Swooping into the Robert Russa Moton Museum as its newest mascot for elementary-aged students is Ed Eagle. The energetic and knowledgeable bald eagle, sporting a letter jacket with the year of the Moton School’s founding, 1939, guides young students through the history of the museum as well as teaches them about civics processes and civil rights.
Ed Eagle is set to be incorporated into much of the curriculum the museum provides for elementary schools in the state and the young visitors program at the museum. Coloring books detailing Ed Eagle’s adventures in history and civics, first distributed in gift bags during the museum’s holiday program with the Farmville Jaycees, will be available at the museum bookstore.
Leah Brown, assistant director for education at the Moton Museum, said museum staff had explored ideas to teach the museum’s history to elementary-aged students. The Moton story is extensive, and they considered ways to guide young children through its history. From those ideas, Ed Eagle was born.
“Ed, as a mechanism and education mascot, teaches topics like history, civics, and explains aspects of government,” Brown said. “Through this programming, we are building a foundation of history and civics for our students.”
The lessons from Ed Eagle are in line with standards of learning specifically for elementary school students.
An example of Ed Eagle’s adventures can be found in its coloring book, the “Pola-Road Trip,” where Ed Eagle guides children through different landmarks in the United States. Designed to look like polaroid photos, Ed Eagle poses in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Washington Monument, and the Supreme Court building where Brown v. Board of Education was won. After his travels, he returns to his home at Twin Lakes State Park in Prince Edward County.
“He invites the students in,” Brown said. “He says, ‘come check this out with me!’”
Designing Ed Eagle and the coloring book came through a partnership with Longwood University’s Design Lab, a student-run design agency at Longwood that offers students a professional design experience, as well as undergraduate research opportunities.
Heimburg, one of the students who worked on Ed Eagle’s design, collaborated with fellow students Vicki Coleman, the primary designer for Ed Eagle, and Mason Vest. Collaborating with the Moton Museum, as well as Longwood faculty and other students, was a rewarding experience, Heimburg said.
“The design of Ed Eagle was shaped by suggestions and critiques from people of all different backgrounds and perspectives, and hopefully that has made him a character that a wide audience can relate to,” Heimburg said.
Teaching children about the museum’s history, as well as about civic processes and their civil rights, is more important than ever, Heimburg said. Ed Eagle can be the perfect way for students to be introduced and learn about these important lessons.
To learn more about Ed Eagle, the curriculum and the coloring books, please contact the Moton Museum at motonmuseum.org or (434) 315-8775.