Putnam County fifth-graders create a Living Wax Museum
HENNEPIN — History is full of remarkable people, fantastic inventions and world-changing events, but it can suffer from an unfortunate reputation as a collection of names and dates found in dusty old books.
However, more than 50 students at Putnam County Elementary School (PCES) have learned how to breathe life into history with their Living Wax Museum. Held on March 29, the third annual educational event created a personal connection as the fifth-grade students immersed themselves in both the lives and looks of their assigned historical figures.
“They’ve worked on this project for a month, and we like it because it’s student-led and they can follow their interests,” fifth-grade teacher Monica Frund said.
After selecting which historical figure they wanted to represent, students had to then research their backgrounds, achievements and legacies. Along with putting together a display of this information, the students also had to duplicate their look and be able to speak as their famed counterparts as guests and students from other classes passed by.
Some of the chosen historical figures included Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Sally Ride, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Annie Oakley, Queen Elizabeth, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams, Helen Keller, Maria Tallchief, Jackie Kennedy, Sitting Bull, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, George Washington, Louis Braille, Marco Polo, Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney, Paul Revere, Babe Ruth, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Irwin.
“I was inspired by him and what he accomplished after one of my friends was Marco Polo last year,” fifth-grader Triston Walter said of why he chose the famed explorer of the Silk Road.
“I liked being able to get into costume and learning how he discovered the laws of motion,” fifth-grader Nathan Fuchs said while portraying Issac Newton.
For students, the project proved to be more engaging than a simple book report and more challenging than just a costume party.
“I’ve liked this because it taught me a lot more than I would’ve learned from just reading a book about him. He was one of the smartest people alive, and making the timeline was the hardest part of the project for me,” 5th-grader J.T. Goulding said while portraying theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
During the previous two years, the event was held in the 5th-grade classrooms, but its success saw it moved into the gymnasium this year.
“We’re all very proud of our students for how well they’ve done with this project and for how much they’ve learned. It’s also a lot of fun for everyone to be able to see the amount of creativity that went into their costumes and displays,” PCES Principal Courtney Balestri said as she surveyed the crowd-filled gym.