‘Mysteries of the Museum’ Unveiled at Austin Road Elementary

“Mysteries of the Museum” TV host Don Wildman (front, center) with Austin Road fifth grade teacher (back row, right) and her class Credits: Photo Courtesy of Mary Jean Cerbini
Wildman takes a selfie with some of the Austin Road fifth graders. Credits: Photo Courtesy of Mary Jean Cerbini

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The extraordinary, often bizarre treasures housed in America’s museums represent wondrous chapters in history, but a physical display can tell only part of their story. Behind each artifact are amazing tales and secrets to be revealed—tales sometimes brimming with scandal, mystery, murder and intrigue.

On the Travel Channel TV show, “Mysteries at the Museum,” host Don Wildman visits a wide variety of museums across the United States, taking viewers on a tour of America’s past by re-examining what’s been left behind.

On Thursday, Dec. 22, Mary Jean Cerbini’s fifth-grade class at Austin Road Elementary School had the unique experience of hearing some of Wildman’s tales of history of exploration in person when the TV show host paid a visit to the school.

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Wildman spoke to the students about his love of history and some of his travels. He told how he explored crypts, catacombs and tunnels underground, and of his recent trip to Egypt to research the mysteries of King Tut for an upcoming special episode. Wildman stressed the importance of history and the amazing discoveries waiting for the students in the thousands of museums in New York State alone.  

“When I was in fifth grade I felt that the whole world had been found already; like I was coming along at the end of all the big discoveries and everything in the world had already been found,” Wildman told the class. “I couldn’t be more wrong. I was totally wrong and it’s still an incredibly mysterious place.”

Wildman came to Austin Road Elementary because Cerbini uses “Mysteries at the Museum” to supplement her history curriculum. In addition to learning vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills, the students learn history in a fun and engaging way. Every student in the class enjoys the show at home and watches regularly, she said. 

“There’s so much more to history, and to learning in general, when different forms of media are used.,” Cerbini said. “Through ‘Mysteries at the Museum,’ the students visit places and meet people that are so much more alive than pages in a book.”

Through the show, the class was introduced to the father of the U.S. Cavalry, as well as numerous inventors and inventions. The students also learned fascinating facts about how different things came to be.  Cerbini said that each week her students look forward to adding to their “Mysteries at the Museum” board in the classroom.

During his visit, Wildman challenged the students to research a mystery that he is curious about, so he gave them an assignment to find out about the Mahopac Indians. He asked hem to learn what “Mahopac” really means and what language it comes from. He wants them to discover who the Indian tribe was and if they were they part of a larger tribe. Wildman also asked to to students to research where the tribe lived and why. He will come back to Austin Road at the end of January and the students will present their findings to him.

Cerbini said the students were “unbelievably excited” about Wildman’s visit.

“When he walked in the room, they were standing up applauding and taking pictures,” she said. “One student, Robert Dusovic, told his mother that next to the day he was born this was the most exciting day of his life. I think that pretty much sums it up.”

Article provided by Mary Jean Cerbini

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