Since October, a Grade 5/6 split class at Summit elementary has been working away at the most colossal of topics — The History of the Universe as We Know It.
Last week, the class lined the school’s gymnasium with an abundance of information in the form of posters, elaborate models and even dolls. Students were tasked by their teacher, Terri Anne Wilson, to pursue a topic of their own interest, with many taking on more than one project.
Early on, Wilson said, her students had a hard time with interruptions to their learning due to the pandemic.
“They weren’t really going very deeply on topics. They were reluctant to write. They were writing a couple sentences and considering that finished,” she said.
In an effort to get her students to dive deep, Wilson came up with the idea for her kids to create a virtual museum — in lieu of being able to visit an actual museum themselves. A five-minute documentary on the project is planned to be published online later this month.
Wilson’s students explored a wide range of topics, including the history of weddings, the Titanic, dinosaurs, ancient civilizations and the history of the United Kingdom — something that required last-minute changes with the announcement of Prince Philip’s death.
Grade 6 student Carter Nadeau sought to explore the history of humans. The idea came from his mom, but he already knew a bit about it. How?
“It was in The Simpsons,” he told Kamloops This Week, referencing the venerable cartoon series.
Nadeau perused a pair of books on the subject, learning about various types of human ancestors and how we eventually came to be who we are now.
Most surprising to the youngster was the tale of Lucy, a 3.2-million-year old fossilized skeleton of a human ancestor and a vital part of our understanding of the past today. In his presentation, Lucy appears as a doll — a heavily modified Barbie, in fact.
Like many of her fellow students, Alyssa Nickel was hands-on with a number of projects. But her favourite was delving into the mysteries of Ancient Egypt.
“I think it’s interesting because there’s so much stuff to cover,” she said. “It was an ancient civilization and they believed in so much stuff.”
The pharaohs, the queens and the gods were all subjects of her research and she’s happy with how her work came through.
“I think I put a lot of effort into them and it was a lot of fun to put together,” she said, noting she leveraged her love of dogs in the project she put together.
“I have a dog named Cooper and I really love him,” she said. “Dogs have been one of my interests for a really long time. I learned a lot about them.”
Cartwright said the connection between humans and dogs goes back tens of thousands of years. The question she wanted answered was: How did the dog become a pet?
Some of the information Cartwright came across was too grown-up for her to understand, she said, but that didn’t stop her from learning new facts, such as how dogs and wolves still share 99 per cent of their DNA and how early humans used dogs to help them hunt.
One of the many topics chosen by the class that proved popular was dinosaurs.
Reid Bissell said the idea came to him easily.
“I took some time, but then I remembered that I know a lot about dinosaurs,” he said.
Bissell capitalized on his knowledge and turned it into a stellar display of his research. He even adorned his poster with dinosaur figurines.
“My favourite fact, well, there were a lot of facts. But I like the fact that a Tyrannosaurus rex weighed the same amount as a garbage truck,” he said.
And he made friends along the way, too, folding other students into his project. He said he was “very happy” with how it turned out.
Wilson said the collaborative part of the project has been important in teaching employable skills, such as organizing and delegating, and noted she began to see her students as research colleagues.
The class also collected money for three organizations in the city. This week, students will put their math skills to the test to determine how much the Kamloops SPCA, Kamloops Food Bank and Kamloops Film Society each receive as a result of their fundraising efforts.