In 2013, NCPTT reached over 150 K-12 students through several youth programs offered at the Center, in support of Action 3: History Lessons and Action 16: Live and Learn.  These programs were designed to promote STEM education and encourage young people to consider careers in the National Park Service’s conservation and preservation program.

Classroom Programs

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Students from Natchitoches Magnet School recording headstone iconography in American Cemetery.

Cemetery Headstones Styles and Iconography:  Eighth grade students from Natchitoches Magnet School  visited NCPTT to learn about historic headstone styles and iconography, and burial traditions of different ethnic groups.   Following discussions, the students put the information they had learned to the test during a scavenger hunt in American Cemetery, reportedly the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase.

Conservation Scientist for a Day:  Juniors from the Avoylles Parish Charter school spent the day at NCPTT studying Native American archeological shards, using three analytical techniques: optical microscopy, chemical spot tests, and portable x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy.  They also documented each of their pottery shards using measurements, sketches, and photographs.

Scout Programs


Girl Scouts discovering chemistry as they combine shortening, lye, and alcohol to make soap.

The Chemistry of Soap Making:  Junior Girl Scouts discovered chemistry though the process of making soap.  The girls worked at individual stations in a chemistry lab at Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSU), a partner of NCPTT.  They learned about lab techniques and chemical reactions while creating their own soap from shortening, lye, alcohol and a saturated salt solution.

Save Outdoor Sculpture:  During a two-day period, Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts completed the Save Outdoor Sculpture patch at NCPTT.  The Save Outdoor Sculpture (SOS!) program is a nationwide effort to identify, document, and preserve America’s sculptural heritage.  The girls learned how bronze sculptures are made and how it weathers.  They also learned how and why stone sculpture deteriorates, because of issues such as pollution and vandalism.  To complete the service project requirement for the patch, the girls spent a Saturday morning cleaning over 60 historic headstones at American Cemetery – using proper cleaning techniques.

Summer Programs

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History Detective campers creating “bousillage,” a mixture of clay, Spanish moss and water traditionally placed between wooden timbers to create walls in colonial Louisiana.

History Detectives Camp:  During the camp, youth ages 8-18 experienced preservation activities in the Center’s four program areas: Architecture and Engineering, Archeology, Historic Landscapes, and Materials Conservation.  The campers learned how to make and apply lime wash, construct bousillage walls, and excavate an archeological site in the Natchitoches Historic District.  They also discovered how the NSU campus landscape has changed since the early 1900s, and explored stone as a building material though monuments in American Cemetery.

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Middle and high school students assembling robots during Robotics Camp.

Robotics Camp:  For the third summer in a row, NCPTT hosted a robotics camp for middle to high school-aged students.  Funded in part through a partnership with Weyerhaeuser, the campers gained hands-on experience in robot assembly, soldering, programming, electronics, and navigation using sensors.


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