The 'Imaginative Minds' at Bethesda Elementary School
Museum project at Waukesha school used students to teach other students about history.
Sydney Kyzar, a fourth-grade student at Bethesda Elementary School, recently spent a morning working at the school’s "Imaginative Minds" museum and was willing to step up and give a short presentation.
Sydney showed off a model arch that represented some of Michelangelo’s work in the exhibit in the elementary school’s library.
“Michelangelo wasn’t only a famous artist, sculpture and painter,” Sydney said. “He was also an architect. This represents one of the churches he may have built or redecorated.”
The school ran a pilot program this year that included 33 students from grades one through five to research and develop a museum exhibit that would teach other students about the topic. Working in groups of three, the students worked hard on their projects for 10 weeks this school year while preparing their projects for the rest of the school.
“They tried to design them all so that kids would actually love to try this and get their hands on learning,” Principal Randy Kunkel said.
Kunkel is hopeful that he will be able to extend the project-based learning to the curriculum for all students next year.
Meanwhile, this year’s museum project included displays on Amelia Earhart, Michelangelo, Les Paul, Beethoven and, a popular exhibit for young children who love Mario Kart, video game developer Shigeru Miyamoto.
The students were trained as museum docents, ready to share information on each exhibit.
“They would have a hook,” Kunkel said. “If you would walk up to an exhibit, they might say ‘Have you ever tried something that didn’t turn out right the first time? Well, you have a lot in common with the Wright brothers.’ That was the magic – when the kids are actually presenting.”