Greensburg Junior High School students last week immersed themselves in the Renaissance, studying Shakespeare, Copernicus and Galileo, and building models of catapults, crossbows and anemometers (wind-measuring devices).
The science and social studies projects required students to conduct research about the period’s masters, build a model of something invented during that period and give a presentation to fellow students.
Teachers said the hands-on-learning projects elicited excitement among the students, and the students said they preferred making models to listening to lectures.
As sixth grade science and social studies teacher Sonja Linville walked from table to table Thursday afternoon to listen to the students explain their projects in small groups, the students presented some biographical information about the Renaissance masters they had chosen before explaining the purpose of their models and how they built them.
Curtis Bausback, 12, had built a life-size wooden crossbow with the help of his father, Jeff.
Curtis said he researched the life and works of Leonardo Da Vinci, before using saws and drills to create a fear-inducing wooden crossbow, complete with draw string.
“I figured a crossbow would be pretty cool to build,” Curtis said.
He enjoyed the project immensely, he said.
“A lot more fun than reading books,” Curtis said.
Da Vinci seems to have many admirers at Greensburg Junior High School. Most of the students interviewed by the Daily News based their project on inventions by the Florentine painter/sculptor/philosopher/engineer/architect.
Takisha Lee, 11, built a model of Da Vinci’s anemometer, a device that measures wind speed.
She, too, said she enjoyed the break from typical classroom instruction.
“I think it’s cooler because we’re not just sitting around listening to a teacher talk,” she said.
Linville said that the students had just studied the Middle Ages and the Black Plague, a rather dark period, and that the Renaissance was a good era to inspire students through all of its philosophies, discoveries and inventions.