GREENSBURG – From building detailed models of Fort Sumter to crafting an Abraham Lincoln-style top hat and making home-made apple pie, Greensburg Junior High School students found diverse ways to engage the country’s pre-Civil War era last week.
The project-based learning unit allowed students to explore the era’s seminal developments — the election of Lincoln, the Missouri Compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act — in their own way. The school’s social studies teachers said students know how they learn best, and a project-based approach engages students more than lectures and allows them to better grasp the material.
One student had brought home-made apple pie for her fellow students to try. Another student wore a tall top hat in the style of Abraham Lincoln. Even Principal Matt Clifford visited the cafeteria to snap photos of the eighth-graders’ projects.
Tristin Smith, 14, drew an acrylic painting showing a slave in the center, with one white man holding on to his chains, and another white man freeing him of his shackles. The slave being pulled into two opposite directions symbolizes America being torn into two.
“I have a very creative … imagination (and) as I researched (the Fugitive Slave Act), an idea began to form,” Tristin said.
She said she enjoyed expressing in a painting what she learned about pre-Civil War era history much more than listening to a lecture.
Zoie Rynard, 14, and Erica Evans, 13, built two models of Fort Sumter, S.C. On Sept. 18, 1861, shots rang out over the fort, marking the beginning of the Civil War. Zoie and her father built a Styrofoam and duct tape model depicting the fort before the battle. The ramparts hold figures of soldiers, toy cannons and even small ammunition boxes.
“My dad and I love building, and so does Erica,” Zoie said.