From hieroglyphics to housing and a whole lot more
Did Ancient Egyptians put sand in their dough on purpose? Why would wealthy women wear a golden beetle—a scarab—as jewelry? How did the Ancient Egyptians work together to trap migrating birds in marshlands?
These are just some of the fascinating conversations overheard at the Ancient Egyptian Museum on January 4. The pop-up exhibit in John Jay Middle School’s library showcased over twenty exhibits researched and created by students of Team Aspire, taught by Kathy O’Neil, Annette Milne, Elyssa Rekow and Nicole Esterow.
Each sixth-grade docent stood next to the exhibit they created—colorful and creative artifacts which ranged from a working example of a water clock and a diorama of the Nile River Valley to a replica of Cleopatra’s gold serpent bracelet—and offered visitors a fascinating glimpse into life in Ancient Egypt.
The museum is the culmination of a social studies unit on Ancient Egypt
“The students brought the wonders of ancient Egypt to life,” said O’Neil. “Their passion and knowledge were inspiring not only to their peers but also their teachers. It was a joy to see our students embrace history. We are so proud of their hard work, creativity, and dedication to learning!”
Students began researching their topic in early December.
While many topics came from an idea list offered by the teachers, Zachary was one of the students who tackled something new. He wondered what archeologists did once they discovered a mummy.
“I used to live in New York City and have seen mummies in museums,” said Zachary. He became an expert on how scientists study the embalmed, wrapped bodies of Ancient Egypt.
“This project is as much about research as it is creativity,” said Jenn Useted, the school’s librarian, who helped the students find the resources they needed. “As they began creating their artifact, their questions brought them deeper into their research."
“It’s fun to do self-guided learning and discover what you’re interested in,” said Isabelle, who leaned into Ancient Egyptian Boats & Ships.
Roles of Women
“While women probably didn’t put sand in their dough on purpose, the wind would blow some in when grinding grain,” said Danika. “They’ve found that many mummies' teeth are worn down.”
Ancient Egyptian Clothing
“The traditional male garment was the schenti,” said Sarrah. She wrapped the long white linen around a dummy, demonstrating how pharaohs, deities and commoners would get dressed.
Hunting & Fishing
“Ancient Egyptians would use fish to bait birds into a clapnet,” said Cameron. His diorama was based on tomb art that depicted Ancient Egyptians hunting and fishing.
Polished, exuberant presentations
The students knew their material inside and out and had carefully crafted their presentations with catchy introductions and key points—allowing them to field questions, keep eye contact and let their enthusiasm for their subject spill out and engage their audience.
Librarian Useted said that one of her joys is watching the seventh and eighth graders visit the museum. “They remember this project!”