HAMPSTEAD – Hampstead Middle School’s fifth graders annually put on a large-scale exhibit of what they have learned about Ancient Egyptian life and times. Called the Egyptian Museum, the event takes weeks of preparation, and the 2013 version last week was a big success.
Parents and friends filled the hallway and crowded into the classrooms to see the exhibits on Thursday morning, Feb. 21, as the unit on Egypt was brought to an exciting end. The Ancient Egyptian unit introduces the students to life, culture, art and architecture in that period, as well as providing handson learning about such things as mummification, frog dissection, and preparation for the afterlife.
The teachers help the students select subject possibilities for the Egyptian Museum, including Journey to the Afterlife, Preparing for the Tomb, the Great Pyramids/Sphinx, Mummies and geography and weather. The students all take part in the museum, working as individuals or in small groups on specific projects that piqued their interest as they studied about Ancient Egypt.
One of the highlights of the Egyptian Museum is the display of the sarcophaguses, some of which contain mummified frogs. At the outset of the unit the students dissect frogs and prepare them for mummification. This hands on science project fits neatly into the Ancient Egyptian unit.
The exhibits must fit on a table and be free standing, and each display must include research information and some visuals sketches, diagrams, models or “artifacts” made by the students. Marley Mailloux spoke eloquently about her display of the Egyptian Canopic containers and the mummification process, explaining the significance of the special figures such as the jackal to care for the stomach, the baboon to care for the lungs, a human form to watch over the liver and a falcon to guard the intestines.
“The frog dissection was fun,” she said, adding, “it was cool but sometimes gross.” Logan Brown, dressed as a Pharaoh, responded to a parent who said he was cute by saying he preferred “fashionable.” His display was about sarcophaguses, and he explained these contained mummies.
“I think this is how King Tut would look,” he said pointing to a display. “They decorated the sarcophagus and added things so as to have a good life in the afterlife, and these are the hieroglyphics on the sides. I learned the Ancient Egyptians embalmed everything and on the lids put a sculpture of the Egyptian person inside with their arms crossed, symbolizing loyalty.” Parent volunteers provided breakfast food for the visitors to the Ancient Egyptian Museum.