Middlebrook students bring King Tut to life

Room 126 at Middlebrook School was a portal to ancient Egypt recently, as visitors were whisked into the tomb of Tutankhamun, more commonly known as “King Tut.” The effort was created by social studies teacher Will Mathews and his sixth grade students.

“The King Tut’s Tomb Experience originally started as a collaboration between our social studies teacher and me 13 years ago when I was teaching English,” Mr. Mathews said. “The main skills that we are focusing on through this project are research, note taking, synthesizing, summarizing, expository and descriptive writing, and public speaking.”

The students began working on the project in December when they offered Mr. Mathews three choices of artifacts they wished to create. He then selected one of those options each student could make.

“The artifacts are made entirely at home, and I encourage a child-parent partnership in putting it all together, especially in getting supplies and working with tools,” he said. “I also get the parents involved by asking them to volunteer to meet with me on a Saturday to raise the walls of the tomb.”

Getting those walls raised was not an easy task for this year’s display, as it was done on the Sunday after the recent blizzard. One parent walked over a mile and a half to participate, because her driveway was impassible. In total, 13 parents assisted in getting room 126 to look like the tomb.

The students spent the majority of the first two months of 2013 completing their artifacts and preparing to discuss their stories of King Tut with visitors. The tomb was open for three days during school, as well as two nights.

Students K.C. Johnson and Isabella Segall served as enthusiastic tour guides for the display as they escorted visitors. Both made sure to proudly point to their artifacts. Isabella made a cabinet with hieroglyphic fretwork, while K.C. made a pomegranate vase.

Each student spoke with authority on the topic, and answered any questions with ease. The tour finishes with the coffin, including the representative mummy of King Tut.

“Outside of school, we had to write the description of our artifact,” said K.C. “We had to research it and put it into a paragraph that would be fit for a museum.”

Students made every effort for the tomb to be authentic, and to that end, each description had to indicate what the artifact was made of in reality, even if that might have been stretching the truth.

“Everything in here is real,” Isabella said with a chuckle.

The students indicated they were all excited to take part in the project. The only concern was if they would have enough time to finish their artifact, with tests in other subjects on the horizon.

However, Mr. Mathews assured them everything would work out.

“It was nice because there were a lot of choices,” student Davis Langhoff added in regard to what each student could make.

The moment of truth came when everything was in place and Mr. Mathews led the students to the tomb for the first time.

“It’s so cool,” Isabella said. “It’s like Disney World.”

“When you’re with Mr. Mathews, it’s always fun,” K.C. said.

The experience had a large impact on the students, who said they would be interested in doing something similar in the future.

“I love to talk, if you haven’t noticed,” said Isabella. “I want people to remember me. I love giving the tours.”

The most common image associated with the tomb is that of the death mask, which was faithfully recreated by Mr. Mathews’ students.

King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, an English archaeologist, and George Herbert, an aristocrat who financially backed the search.

Only nine or 10 years old when he ascended to the throne, King Tut was only about 18 years old when he died, and there is still no definitive conclusion as to what killed him.

“We believe he died from a carriage accident, or he was murdered by Ay, one of his advisers, or Horemheb,” Isabella said.