Last week, a miniature Albert Einstein, Sonia Sotomayor, Jane Goodall, Martin Luther King Jr. and other notable figures from the past and present could be found in hallways and classrooms at Oak Harbor Elementary School.
“He’s my hero,” said Albert Einstein, otherwise known as fourth-grader Jonas McGhee II. He wore an unruly white wig, lab coat and tie as part of the school’s “interactive wax museum.” Around 70 students stood (almost) as still as wax figures until a visitor pressed their “button,” which would activate a mini speech about their chosen person.
McGhee stood completely silent and still until passers by pressed the imaginary button on the floor in front of him. He didn’t need any note cards as he went from talking about growing up in Germany in the 1800s to developing E=MC2. He chose Einstein because he loves science and wants to be a scientist astronaut when he grows up.
Three weeks prior, the fourth graders were given a selection of short biographies on a number of important people and given the opportunity to chose a subject for their book report, essay and wax museum exhibit.
“I think it went really well,” said Megan Hunt, fourth-grade reading teacher and organizer of the event. “The kids worked really hard. They were nervous at first, but I think they pulled it off.”
Parents, teachers and students from other grade levels were all invited to walk through the different presentations. Some students chose to dress up as their chosen person and others created a poster for their visual.
“I had to study very hard,” said Zoe Stannford, dressed as Jane Goodall in a tan safari shirt with binoculars around her neck. Stannford felt connected to Goodall’s chimp research because she likes animals and her dad calls her “little monkey.”
Kierra Thayer stood in front of her poster depicting photos of Martin Luther King Jr and a timeline of important events in his life. “Since he was an American hero, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about him,” she said.
Hunt encountered this type of project when she was a teacher in Georgia, and she decided to give it a try in her first year as a fourth-grade teacher in Oak Harbor.
“I thought it would be a fun way for the kids to do a research project,” she said. “They would like to participate in this more than just the book report by itself.”
Lila Forees both dressed up as Malala Yousafzai and made a poster with photos and quotes of the Pakistani activist. Forees was inspired by her courage and determination.
“There’s not a lot of people in this world who would fight this hard for an education,” she said.
This is the first time Hunt had done this type of project with the students. It was clear on the faces of teachers and parents walking through the exhibit, it was well received.
“They just did a really good job,” said Hunt. “All three fourth-grade teachers are really proud of how it turned out.”