Educators Help the Commemoration

These are some ideas we no longer update links to educators or schools.

Larry Bickford of Hopkinton High School, Contoocook, NH tells of his Famine unit:

 I teach a 9-week unit to 8th-graders on the famine and subsequent emigration to the U.S., thus my interest. In our approach to the material, we have students adopt names and identities from passenger lists of the 1840s (we have about 8 now), then write that person's story in the form of a first-person journal, running from roughly the summer before the blight struck to the summer following. We (their teachers) feed the students plenty of history and details about life in both Ireland and Boston so as to keep their journals in the realm of historical fiction and not fantasy.

 The results of this effort are, I believe, rather remarkable. Students almost uniformly like or love the unit (all 8th-graders participate). One spin-off is that the high school this spring published a book of excerpts from as many journals as we could locate. About 150 students volunteered their work, written over the course of the last 4 or 5 years of our unit. The book, a glossy-cover trade paperback, runs just shy of 200 pages and would be available (if anyone is interested) for $15 (incl. shipping). We have a few left, but not a lot, so I'm not exactly beating the drum on this.

 The other spin-off from the unit is that I led 22 students and 6 adults on a tour of Ireland this past April. We were there for 10 days and focused our visit on the west of the country, including the Cobh Heritage Center, the Famine Museum, the deserted village on Achill Island, etc. An excellent trip, one we hope someday to repeat.



Pat Jameson-Sammartano teaches an Irish studies course to inner city high school seniors, and an Irish culture seminar to college students. She contributed a contemporary article she uses in those settings.



Potatoes! Throughout history they have been alternately rejected as poisonous and praised as a food fit for kings. Yet this often misunderstood vegetable has triggered mass population shifts and is now one of the world's most important food crops. Potatoes produce more food energy per acre than wheat, rice or corn.

 A new Cornell Cooperative Extension publication,"The Humble Potato: Underground Gold," was published to help children explore a food crop from the perspectives of science and socioculture. Educators and parents will also will enjoy reading this 40-page publication.

 "The Humble Potato" is an exciting way to help children ages nine to twelve learn about potatoes in school as well as in informal groups such as 4-H clubs and after-school programs. It explores potatoes through the eyes of three imaginary children: one who lived in South America in the year 1300, another in Ireland during the potato famine, and one in present day Long Island. By reading their stories and doing the suggested activities, children will learn about the history of potatoes, how to grow them and how they stack up nutritionally. The project can easily be modified for older or younger children.

 The publication was written by Marcia Eames-Sheavly, extension support specialist in the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Tracy Farrell, extension associate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

 Eames-Sheavly also wrote "The Three Sisters: Exploring an Iroquois Garden," which received a Quill and Trowel Award for Excellence in Garden Communication and an Art of Garden Communication Award from the Garden Writers Association of America, "Radishes to Riches" and "The Great American Peanut."

 Copies of "The Humble Potato: Underground Gold," 142LM17,

We  carry this publication,  $5.95, plus postage and handling and our contact info is as follows:

The Resource Center
Cornell University
PO Box 3884
Ithaca, NY 14852-3884

Phone:  607-255-2080
Fax:       607-255-9946

Scientific classroom experiments with potatoes 
The organizer of the Commemoration welcomes your questions, comments, and ideas. Email to:


Conrad J. Bladey, Director

PO Box 268
Linthicum Md 21090
(send SAE for further info, if you're in USA. If not, send snail address.)

Visit our potato science page (click here) to learn more.