First-Year Students Participate in Scavenger Hunt to Learn About Worcester

November 1st, 2013 by 

scavenger hunt
First-year students Sara McLean, Nicholas Mastas, Marena Elle Minelli, Emma Molloy and John Ortlieb received the “Best Research” award for their poster on the site “God’s Acre,” which they discovered was a cemetery.

How much do you really know about the City of Worcester?  Did you know the company that produced the first Valentine is located in the City or that the first liquid-fuel rocket was launched into space from Worcester?  More than 100 first-year students scavenged through Worcester to unveil the unique features of the City. The scavenger hunt was part of Montserrat, the College’s comprehensive program for all first-year students designed to enhance each student’s academic and campus experience by integrating living and learning.  The program features small, full-year seminars that facilitate collaboration among students and professors. The seminars are organized into five clusters, each devoted to a specific theme (Core Human Questions, Divine, Global Society, Natural World, and Self).

This year, the Global Society Cluster’s common theme for its eleven seminars is “Maps and Boundaries.”  Faculty teaching the seminars met last April to brainstorm activities relating to issues of mapping and separating.  Together, with the aid of Thomas Doughton, senior lecturer in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and John Anderson, professor emeritus of history and the former mayor of Worcester,  the professors created a scavenger hunt of hidden gems throughout Worcester.  The groups’ major task was to present a poster featuring information about their assigned “target.”

“We wanted to create a kick-off event that would encourage students to think about the richness of Worcester, that would make them think about the complex relationship between space, place, and communities, that would inspire them to be explorative and curious,” says Andrea Borghini, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Global Society cluster. “We also wanted to create an event from which the whole campus could benefit.”

The students were separated into 35 groups made up of five students each, with no more than two students from the same seminar, giving the students the opportunity to see new faces.  All groups were assigned a faculty advisor who offered guidance in preparation for their poster which would showcase their work.

Sites included a Civil War hospital, a company manufacturing space suits for NASA, the first hospital for the mentally ill, a “station” on the Underground Railroad, a school where a president of the United States taught, among many other notable locations in Worcester County.

Sara McLean ’17 and Nicholas Mastas ’17, who worked with Marena Elle Minelli ’17, Emma Molloy ’17, and John Ortlieb ’17 on the site God’s Acre, said their experience was, “very interesting.”  “We had to hike to find the graveyard.  It was so old you could barely see it,” says McLean.  “The project brought a lot of new people together,” adds Mastas ’17.  Their group, Group 18, won the “Best Research” award.

After the scavenger hunt, the Global Society cluster met as a whole to celebrate their work by exhibiting their posters to faculty and their peers.  The fourth floor of Fenwick Hall was transformed into a Worcester history museum with 35 posters representing the famous sites of the city.

The posters are now on display in the Integrated Science Complex, and will travel to the Hogan Campus Center soon.

Want to try finding the sites yourself? Here is a complete list of all the targets.

2013 Global Symposium: Worcester Scavenger Hunt

1.    Site of the first company producing Valentines
2.    Site where the first liquid-fuel rocket was launched in space
3.    The church endowed by Matthew Whittall
4.    Elizabeth Bishop’s graveyard
5.    Site of the ice cream shop run by anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Beckman
6.    Greton & Knight and the Worcester Lebanese
7.    Norton company and Worcester Swedes
8.    Site of the first hospital for the mentally ill
9.    Brinley Hall
10.    Liberty Farm
11.    The Friend’s meeting house on Oxford street
12.    Laurel/Clayton and the Worcester Armenians
13.    Laurel/Clayton and the Worcester African-Americans
14.    Laurel/Clayton and the Worcester Swedes
15.    The oldest standing school building in Worcester
16.    43 Belmont Street, Worcester
17.    Wiser Avenue and what it commemorates
18.    God’s Acres
19.    The Eight Gate to Hell
20.    The temple on Dewey Street
21.    The original location of Polar Beverages
22.    Newton Hill and Rejoice Newton
23.    Site of the first perfect game in baseball
24.    Site of the turning basin for the Blackstone Canal
25.    Site where a future president of the United States taught school
26.    Site of a Civil War hospital
27.    Site of “station” on the underground railroad
28.    Site of the explosion at the home of Judge Webster Thayer
29.    Church founded by post Civil War ex-slaves from North Carolina
30.    Site of the first publicly purchased park land in the U.S.
31.    One of the first women’s colleges in the U.S.
32.    Location of the court house closed by the rebels in Shays’s Rebellion
33.    Company manufacturing space suits for NASA
34.    Site of manufacturer of trolley cars
35.    Site of manufacturer of barbed wire

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

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