Springfield Elementary’s wax museum project makes history come alive

CorrespondentApril 14, 2014 

— Ignoring the constraints of time and place, Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin swapped stories and told jokes.

Three George Washingtons shared a table with two Ronald Reagans. Mother Theresa and a suffragette skipped through the cafeteria, stopping briefly to shout hello to Audrey Hepburn. This was the scene April 8 at Springfield Elementary during the school’s first fourth grade living wax museum.

Fourth grade students condensed biographical research projects on historical public figures of their choice into short presentations for their families, teachers and peers. Springfield Elementary fourth grade teacher Jean Summerville, who has been teaching in Fort Mill schools since 1979 and is retiring this year, said the project dovetails with the new Common Core standards that stress understanding over memorization.

“The entire fourth grade worked together,” Summerville said, “and the children were allowed to go to different classes and learn about the figures from the other children, and they have retained so much information. They have learned to think critically, and they have drawn so many valuable conclusions.”

Fourth grade teacher Jessica Tomlinson agrees.

“I feel like students were able to dive deep and know that they were doing it for a purpose and doing it for an audience,” she said.

“It really does support the new standards that we have as far as speaking and listening and that kind of thing. It makes the students more aware of why they’re doing it. The standard book report, I feel like they just read the information and they don’t remember it. But if they’re actually able to come up and present their report, they remember it.”

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