Sixth graders celebrate ancient Egyptian history, achievements

For about 15 years, Middlebrook School has explored and celebrated the many achievements of ancient Egypt.

Through the sixth grade green team’s King Tutankhamun’s Tomb Experience and sixth grade yellow team’s Mysteries of Egypt projects, Middlebrook students learn about mummification, hieroglyphics, mythology and pyramids.

“Both projects focus on the study of ancient Egyptian culture with the goal of understanding how that civilization developed over time,” said William Mathews, social studies teacher of the sixth grade green team.

Mr. Mathews said the King Tut’s Tomb Experience uses a more focused approach “using the portal of recreation of King Tut’s tomb,” while, the Mysteries of Egypt project “uses a more broad-based approach, focusing on many different facets of ancient Egyptian society.”

Yellow team sixth grade teacher Luisa Nanos said while students gain knowledge of the ancient Egyptians, they also develop research, writing, speaking and listening skills.

“The students gain an appreciation of the contributions that the ancient Egyptians made, many of which are still around today,” said Ms. Nanos.

King Tut’s Tomb

Mr. Mathews said 118 green team sixth graders took part in the King Tutankhamun’s Tomb Experience.

Several parent volunteers helped Mr. Mathews transform Room 126 into a replica of King Tut’s tomb.

“The construction of the tomb itself is almost a life-size recreation,” said Mr. Mathews. “Of the two rooms we built, the first — the antechamber — is as wide as and 60% as long as the size of the real room, and the second — the burial chamber — is life-sized.”

Mr. Mathews said the production of the King Tut’s Tomb Experience, from start to finish, takes about five to six weeks.

For three days, Feb. 24-26, Mr. Mathews’ students guided visitors through the recreated tomb, showing off replicated ancient Egyptian artifacts they had made.

Sixth grader Marra Woodring recreated a menet bird, which was found in the wrappings of King Tut’s mummy.

Marra said the ancient Egyptians used to make the bird out of carnelian, a stone they most likely treasured.

“There’s an image of the menet bird in The Book of the Dead and it represented a minor deity,” she said.

Marra also fashioned a bracelet ancient Egyptians would have made out of gold and added blue glass and quartz beads.

“Egyptians believed gold was a heavenly metal,” she said.

Ryan Healey, another of Mr. Mathews’ students, made a model boomerang, which was a very important item to King Tut and was found in his tomb.

“It took a long time,” said Ryan. “It fell apart and I had to make it over again.”

Ryan explained his was a model of a real boomerang and was used to hunt fowl in marshes.

“It was found in King Tut’s tomb with other weapons like bows and arrows and throw sticks,” he said.

Mr. Mathews said the King Tut’s Tomb Experience has gotten positive and supportive feedback over the years.

“I often hear from parents of students I taught years ago that they still have the artifact they made for the project and that it is something they will never forget,” he said.

Mysteries of Egypt

On March 14, approximately 112 yellow team sixth graders celebrated Middlebrook’s annual Mysteries of Egypt event.

Ms. Nanos said the five yellow team classes had one week to a month to work on their individual class projects.

In Ms. Nanos’ social studies class, students researched and created homemade artifacts.

Math teacher Kristen Darash’s students invented board games based on Egyptian culture.

In Kaitlyn Mielniczuk’s science class, students mummified oranges and created Egyptian calendars.

Spanish teacher Marilyn Roberti’s students made connections between the pyramids of Meso-America and Egypt, and also wrote their names in hieroglyphics on papyrus bookmarks.

In Jamie Peterson and Tom Koch’s language arts classes, students wrote postcards from Egypt about their imagined travels there and performed their own Egyptian myths.

During the school-day-long event, the sixth graders gave tours to their parents and schoolmates; and orchestra students, under the direction of Darilyn Manring and Marty Meade, performed a song inspired by ancient Egyptians.

“Hundreds of parents, relatives and members of the Middlebrook community visited the museum to enjoy the tours and presentations given by the six-yellow students,” said Ms. Nanos.

“Parents, teachers, and administrators are impressed by the talented work on display, the eloquence of the students’ verbal presentations, and the Egyptian outfits many of the students dressed up in.”

Ms. Nanos said the students looked forward to sharing their hard work, creativity and expertise on their artifacts.

“You could sense the excitement and energy as soon as you arrived to the museum,” she said.

Sixth grader Matt Wenger created a replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which the Egyptians used to help prevent shipwrecks.

“The shore was really shallow in Egypt and the ships would be wrecked if sailors didn’t know where to dock them,” explained Matt, who said the lighthouse saved ships and the people on them.

Sixth grader Allie Bartels created a hieroglyphics chart, which upper class boys in ancient Egypt would learn in school.

“There were more than 2,000 hieroglyphic symbols to learn and they would practice on clay blocks,” she said.

Ms. Nanos said she is proud of the hard work and dedication the students put into their Mysteries of Egypt projects.

“The thought, time and effort the students put into their detailed, beautiful work made me so proud of them,” she said. “I bet the ancient Egyptians would be honored by how wonderfully the students represented their civilization.”