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Student participates in 20th Century project
"History is on every occasion the record of that which one age finds worthy of note in another." - Burckhardt
By Melissa Brown

With the 20th century now over, many people reflect on the events that touched our lives. The invention of the automobile, space travel, and the Internet are just a few of the events that have stayed in the memories of those who lived through them. This month, Kidspeak spoke with Jordan, a sixth grade student who participated in the 20th Century Project, one designed to teach students about important events in American history.

The project was designed by Scott Habegger, Angie Fuller, and Steve Clark, three social studies teachers who decided they wanted their students to realize the importance of events, such as the assasination of JFK, in a way that textbooks alone could not convey. They decided to create a U.S. history project that challenged their students to dig deeper into these events to find out the true impact they had on our nation.
      Jordan said the first step in the assignment was to interview three people who were at least 10 years apart in age, family members or friends, and ask each one to name the top five memorable things that happened during his/her lifetime involving American History. Students were given an interview form to take home over winter break. In addition to the interview, they were asked to take a picture of each interviewee to be included in their presentations of the topic to which they were assigned.


Jordan's interviewees chose several memorable events. Some of the events they chose included: the invention of radar and television, the stock market crash, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the space program, and the computer age.
     After the three interviews, students brought the interview forms back to school and wrote the events on sticky notes to post around the room. A timeline was then created divided by decades. "The teachers assigned [the topics] from there. And then we started researching our topics and we got these research packets and started filling them out," said Jordan.
During his research, he learned a great deal about what the bombing meant to our country and that it was the reason that the United States joined World War II.
Each student took one topic. Jordan was assigned to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a topic chosen by his grandfather as a memorable event in his life. Each student then received a research packet to help guide them in their research. Teachers tried to assign each student to one of the topics mentioned in their interviews so that students could conduct a follow-up interview as one of their resources.
     Jordan found that there was a lot of information about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in books. Other students found the Internet to be a great source of information. During his research, he learned a great deal about what the bombing meant to our country and that it was the reason that the United States joined World War II. He learned about one theory that even suggested that President Roosevelt may have known that the bombing was going to take place and did nothing to stop it, so that the U.S. would be angry enough to want to join the war.

Once he completed his research, Jordan began to work on the list of tasks to finish the project. Jordan told us about some of these tasks, "We started to write our paper, it had to be two pages long. Then we started drawing pictures that represented our projects. Then we did a hyperstudio project. It's a computer program. We chose our buttons and sounds and everything and put the information in there."
     The project was completed over the course of the semester and students had to meet a deadline for each part of the project. "Making the paper," was the most difficult part for Jordan. Students were required to use at least three different resources plus the follow-up interview. The paper included information about issues that led up to the event, when and where the event occurred, and who was involved and how. They were also asked to include their own opinion about how the event affected our country and how our country would be different if such an event had not occurred.

Jordan said that this method of learning about history was better than learning from a lecture.
Jordan also had to complete a physical representation of Pearl Harbor. "We had to make this project over it. I made for Pearl Harbor this map where all the ships were on the exact dates," said Jordan. The 3-D map showed the location of all the ships in the harbor the day of the bombing, including those that were sunk. Jordan created ships out of rubber craft pieces and positioned them on a harbor made of craft board. He chose this project because it represented what he learned most during his research: the extent of the destruction from the bombing.
     Jordan said that this method of learning about history was better than learning from a lecture. He learned a lot about the 20th Century during this project. Students presented their projects to the class and then the class had to answer one question about each event after viewing the presentations. There were 47 students in the class, allowing them to cover many important events in history.

All of the students' hard work and research culminated in 20th Century Night. On this night, parents and community members viewed the students' projects and presentations. More than 300 community members attended the event. On 20th Century Night, the projects were set up to follow the timeline of history. "We started off with Theodore Roosevelt, that was like in 1900. We went all the way to the biography of Bill Clinton" said Jordan.
     Students were asked many questions about their projects by family and community members. According to Mr. Habegger, Jordan knew a great deal about his topic and even taught his teachers a few things about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jordan now eagerly awaits the release of the movie Pearl Harbor which will be released in theatres over Memorial Day weekend 2001. We asked Jordan how he felt on the big night, being in the spotlight. "I was a little nervous because I thought I'd forget what to say," said Jordan. But everything turned out fine. "I just shared my project that I had made and I had hyperstudio and all my pictures and I read some of my paper," said Jordan.
     Jordan said that he learned a lot of valuable lessons doing a project of this magnitude. Working in an environment where you had to meet deadlines, Jordan "learned that you have to get your work in on time because if you don't, you will be far behind." Advice? Jordan says, "Try to keep going fast with it, try to keep up, and do your best."

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