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Education Programs

The following Michigan Iron Industry Museum education programs can be adapted for any grade level and any group size (up to 80 students).


  • Michigan Iron Ore: Grades 3-12; 45 minutes. This PowerPoint program takes students from the discovery of Michigan iron ore deposits up to the present. Topics include the discovery of iron ore, surface and underground mining, working conditions, communities and iron mining today at the Empire and Tilden iron mines. Student volunteers participate and role play as miners throughout the program.
  • Settling Michigan: Pioneer Life: Grades 3-12; 30-45 minutes. This PowerPoint program discusses the settlement of Michigan and the early pioneer experience. Topics include the Northwest Territory, Native Americans, European contact, early transportation and the Erie Canal, and factors that impacted why and where people settled. Throughout the program, student volunteers dress in costume and help demonstrate pioneer tools, everyday activities and pastimes.
  • Iron Ore and the Civil War: Grades 3-12; 45 minutes. This interactive program details the daily life of a Civil War soldier through hands-on activities. Students volunteer to dress in costume and help display reproduction equipment and uniforms. Topics include the reasons for the war, key battles, equipment, food, soldiers' pastimes, sickness and medicine, and how iron ore helped the Union win the War between the States.
  • Great Lakes Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers: Grades 2-12; 25-45 minutes. This PowerPoint program takes students on a tour of selected lighthouses on Lake Superior's southern shore. Topics include lake shipping; lighthouse development, construction and architecture; and the daily lives and duties of lighthouse keepers.
  • Tombstones Can Talk: Grades 2-12; 45 minutes (longer, if at cemetery). This PowerPoint program discusses the importance of cemeteries as places of learning. Students examine tombstones and learn from them. Topics include the local community, construction, architecture, symbolism and tombstone rubbings. Researching genealogy and family history can be included. This program is based upon the successful Negaunee Cemetery tour provided annually by museum staff. This program may be adapted for use in your local cemetery (October is usually the best time!).
  • Immigration and Ellis Island: Grades 3-12; 45 minutes. This PowerPoint program combines historic images and reproduction costumes to detail immigration to the United States and Michigan. As part of the interactive program, students volunteer to participate in a reader theater based upon primary sources. Topics include "push and pull" factors that caused immigrants to leave their homelands, their experiences aboard ship, the examination process at Ellis Island and the discrimination they faced when they arrived in Michigan between 1890 and 1920.
  • Every Artifact Tells a Story: Be a History Detective: Grades 3-12; 25-45 minutes. This hands-on, primary source lesson featuring selected museum artifacts, turns students into history detectives. Using inquiry-based learning, students study the objects and learn as much as they can about them. A worksheet guides them through the process. In the end, each student presents his or her findings to the class. This can also be a group activity.


To book a Michigan Iron Industry Museum school tour, contact historian Barry James at 906-475-7857 or


There is no charge for a general tour or to have any of the above programs presented at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, although donations are gratefully accepted. For off-site programs, there is a nominal fee based upon staff time and distance traveled from the museum.

Tips for Teachers

  • Please make group reservations at least two weeks in advance of the desired program date.
  • Teachers are encouraged to discuss their lesson plans with museum staff before their visit.
  • Please allow at least one hour (in addition to program length) for a museum visit; longer, if walking the outdoor trails and shopping in the Museum Store.

Updated 03/07/2023