Capital University and Bexley Middle School students received a civics lesson Oct. 1 and 2, when a bus operated by C-SPAN, the Washington, D.C.-based public-affairs network, visited the schools as part of the network's 50 Capitals Tour.

While in Columbus, the bus also visited Jones Middle School, Columbus City Hall and the Ohio Statehouse.

The C-SPAN Bus is an interactive mobile classroom with on-board interactive tablets and multimedia stations that enable participants to learn about the federal government and issues that impact citizens.

Columbus was the 43rd stop on C-SPAN's tour of every state capital that began in September 2017 in recognition of the network's mobile learning program's 25th anniversary, said C-SPAN spokeswoman Rachel Katz.

In coordinating the tour, C-SPAN has worked with a local cable provider, and Spectrum provided the network with a list of locations to visit in Columbus, Katz said.

"We're going to each capitol building, as well as locations around the capital," she said.

When the tour's coordinator contacted Bexley Middle School, administrators recognized an opportunity for students to learn about how the media uses technology to inform the public about how government works, said Michelle Rowley-Welsch, chairwoman of the school's social-studies department.

"It was really personalized," Rowley-Welsch said. "When (students) had questions, (the C-SPAN staff) really focused in on the questions."

During the C-SPAN Bus' two-and-a-half-hour visit on the morning of Oct. 1, sixth-grade students toured the bus in groups of 12 for 20-minute periods. Students learned about C-SPAN's video library, American History TV and Book TV.

"We like to teach middle and high school students about the news and our resources," Katz said. "We like to talk to college students about the same thing. A lot of them are first-time voters."

The Bexley Middle School students took an interactive quiz about public affairs and learned about other state capitals on the bus tour.

"They enjoyed hearing anecdotes about other places the bus has visited, like Alaska," Rowley-Welsch said.

The students also discussed with C-SPAN staff how to use critical-thinking skills when evaluating news reports, Rowley-Welsch said.

The students talked about "how do you know if something is a real story or not or if there's a bias, things they have to learn in doing primary research" in social studies classes, she said.

C-SPAN's 50 Capitals Tour is scheduled to conclude at the end of the month in Albany, New York.

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