Minnesota's Legacy

Play the Past: The Field Trip for the 21st Century Learner

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Minnesota Historical Society
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
In Progress
Start Date
July 2015
End Date
June 2016
Activity Type
Digitization/Online Information Access
Counties Affected
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Session Law Reference: Laws of Minnesota 2015, 1st Special Session, chapter 2, article 4, section 2, subdivision 4 (b) (2) Programs
Appropriation Language

$5,525,000 the first year and $6,000,000 the second year are for programs and purposes related to the historical and cultural heritage of the state of Minnesota conducted by the Minnesota Historical Society.

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

The measurable outcomes for Play the Past include: 1. Net promoter score 2. Increased student use of 21st Century Skills 3. Increased student knowledge of MN history 4. Increased student interest in MN History 5. Increased teacher appreciate of MNHS as a valuable resource for teaching 6. Number of teachers and students served

Description of Funds
National Endowment for Humanities
Source of Additional Funds

National Endowment for Humanities

Recipient Board Members
Phyllis Rawls Goff, President
D. Stephen Elliott, Secretary
William R. Stoeri, Immediate Past President
William D. Green, Vice President
Kirby M. Law, Treasurer

Executive Council
Eric Ahlness
Kurt BlueDog
Grant Davis
Phyllis Rawls Goff
Martha Kaemmer
Kirby M. Law
Dean M. Nelson
William R. Stoeri
Ben Vander Kooi
Kathleen Blatz
Barbara Burwell
D. Stephen Elliott
William D. Green
Dennis L. Lamkin
Monica Little
Peter Reis
Bo Thao-Urabe
Eleanor Winston
Suzanne Blue
Brenda J. Child
Michael Farnell
David R. Hakensen
Jean M. Larson
Charles Mahar
Peter Reyes, Jr.
Karen Wilson Thissen
Warren Zaccaro

Mark Dayton, Governor
Steve Simon, Secretary of State
Rebecca Otto, State Auditor
Tina Smith, Lieutenant Governor
Lori Swanson, Attorney General
Project Overview
This groundbreaking project is creating a new model for school field trips, using mobile and web technologies to capitalize on the natural behaviors and learning styles of today's students. Serving approximately 7,000 students annually, Play the Past demonstrates how museums can use technology to create self-directed, personalized, responsive field trip experiences that deepen students' connection to history while honing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Upon entering the museum's Then Now Wow exhibit gallery, students receive handheld devices pre-installed with the mobile application. The application enhances students' experiences and promotes interaction with the physical exhibit by encouraging them to answer questions, solve problems, and collect digital artifacts related to the exhibit and items in MNHS's vast collections. This "digital backpack" of collected artifacts is then accessed back in the classroom by teachers and students, further expanding on the field trip experience and enhancing student learning. MNHS recently added a new tool for Play the Past teachers while at the museum. MNHS now provides teachers with iPads to access their students' digital backpacks while in the gallery, allowing teachers to see students' progress in real time and students to explore the resources of the digital backpacks before reaching home. Over 90 percent of teachers reported that this new tool helped them to understand what their students were doing during Play the Past. Over 95 percent of teachers reported that their students were either extremely or very engaged with Play the Past. MNHS is also working with Dakota artists and activists to add more American Indian content to Play the Past, layering on quests that explore Dakota art, language, and food in the tipi area of the Then Now Wow exhibit. Based on the overall success of the program, Play the Past was recently awarded a grant in March 2015 for $199,936 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to expand the program from the Then Now Wow exhibit to also include the Minnesota's Greatest Generation exhibit.
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Minnesota Historical Society
Street Address
345 Kellogg Blvd. W
Saint Paul
Zip Code