After months of preparation, middle school students from the CT Experiential Learning Center took to the auditorium at Branford’s Blackstone Library, in full regalia! The project, part of a yearlong thematic investigation of exploration and discovery, involved many components: choosing a person to study who has made a significant impact in the world in any field, then conducting research, (learning to create an outline and use note cards) writing a formal research paper, designing and constructing elaborate life-size displays, in order to become this person for the big day – an interactive “living museum” share-day presentation.
Visitors went from display to display, gleaning information from each of the seven students and all that had been prepared.
Students spoke in first person, detailing their information as follows:
President John F. Kennedy sat behind his desk, displaying a hand-drawn Presidential flag, set within a backdrop that represented the Oval Office. Dr. Maria Montessori, dressed in feathered hat, long dress and black shoes, worked on the floor with young people, demonstrating how the Montessori method engages children. Dr. Albert Einstein worked in his office, sharing prisms, light beams, and even raising money for his favorite charities (in the style of Dr. Einstein). Dr. Robert Ballard presented live feed from his webcam, while displaying a variety of visuals and information about his endeavors as the first to discover the remains of the Titanic, and more. Meanwhile, Samuel Colt, complete with beard, tie and jacket, detailed how his original gun designs made an impact on our country’s history and how he achieved success despite major life setbacks. And, to top it off, Pythagoras was also present, sharing about life in the ancient times, his philosophy, and providing hands-on activity to teach about his Pythagorean theorem.
At CELC working hard happens, frequently. Peddling up a hill on bike, sticking with a tough math problem, or actualizing one’s own ideas are all part of the daily fare.
For this theme share day to happen, students needed to remain steadfast, and determined. The detailed displays and articulated, well-edited research papers all took time, and it was not easy. What did students come away with? More knowledge about the subject studied, something about their own abilities, and a true sense of accomplishment.
That feeling of success through perseverance, once experienced, can be repeated again, and again. The next time a hill occurs, keep peddling. What a wonderful opportunity for young people to feel possible.