Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Roman Treasure Box | 6th grade History

History teacher Laura Docter came to us with a problem. In her 6th grade history class, Laura's students do a project in the spring where they make models of Roman artifacts using clay. As the project nears completion, Laura's classroom would start filling up with beautiful clay versions of oil lamps and jewelry but at the same time, she would struggle to find a good way to store and display all these items.

As we were chatting, I happened to mention that Diego and I were talking recently about how kids these days, and especially girls, rarely get the chance to learn basic hands-on skills like how to use a cordless drill properly. I count myself as one such data point; because neither of my parents are handy with tools, I never even touched a power drill until I was well into my 20s. Yes, using a cordless drill is a simple skill but simple skills can be the gateway to empowering students to start their own journey as makers.

You can probably guess where this is heading. Laura, Diego, and I thought, "Why not design a simple hands-on project for her history class, where each student will learn proper drilling techniques by building her own treasure box for the Roman artifacts project?" Since this is an assembly-focused project and we have very limited class time, we prepped and pre-cut the sides of the boxes using the laser cutter. Then within the span of one class period, we showed each girl how to use the cordless drills properly and safely, and then offered guidance as she assembled the hinges of the box using nuts and bolts. After all the boxes were built, the girls then took another class period to select and design appropriately Roman sayings to engrave on the top of the boxes.

One of my favorite things about this project is how even something so short and sweet can allow us to teach some foundational hands-on skills and provide Laura with a simple storage solution for her hands-on project. Two birds with one stone, indeed!

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