Students bring wax museum to life
December 14, 2004
With one touch of a blue button a motionless wax figure of a famous or not-so-famous inventor was instantly converted into a talkative Meneley Elementary School fifth grader. Nearly 30 students recently impersonated inventors during a Wax Museum of Inventors and Scientists class project in the school’s auditorium.
When a button held in their hands was pressed, the young impersonators came to life and immediately gave a rehearsed speech about the life and creations of the inventors who they portrayed.
Students depicted chocolate chip cookie maker Ruth Wakefield, game of basketball orginator James Naismith, first airplane pilot Orville Wright, car assembly line designer Henry Ford and light bulb inventor Thomas Edison, and many other important inventors whose discoveries had a major impact on society.
While looking the part wearing a fluffy white wig and bushy mustache made of squished cotton balls, student Hunter Fillmore gave a 30-second speech about the accomplishments of Nobel Prize winning scientist Albert Einstein, without going into detail regarding the E=MC squared formula.
“Einstein understood the atom and how it worked,” said the boy Einstein to a group of interested students who came to visit the wax museum.
After Hunter’s brief lecture, he admitted to enjoying playing the role of one of the smartest men of the 20th century.
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“I love science so it was an easy decision to be a scientist,” said Fillmore, who did book and Internet research about Einstein to prepare for his wax museum speech.
Fillmore sat along a narrow aisle of inventors who motionlessly waited for curious students to stop by and press their buttons.
The innovative wax museum class project was conducted by fifth-grade teacher Cathy Hackler, who wanted her students to learn history by “switching to a first-person account.”
“This project gave the students an opportunity to get involved, discover the world and learn about the things that impact their young lives,” Hackler said. “They get to do public speaking, reading and writing for a one-page report.”
Hackler gave the students a list of inventors to choose from but several students put in the extra effort to learn about inventors not on the list.
One name on that illustrious list was Gailei Galileo, a 16th century astronomer portrayed by student Zoe Vanderbyl. Zoe, an avid amateur astronomer, used a telescope as a prop while speaking about the inventor of the telescope and thermometer.
“It was an easy decision to pick Galileo because I love looking at the night sky,” Zoe said.
Christina Williams chose to be a wax version of light bulb and phonograph inventor Thomas Edison, who recorded hundreds of patents during his productive lifetime.
“Everyone uses light bulbs,” Williams said. “He liked to invent things.”
Austin Martin enjoys shooting baskets on the school playground. His wax figure included one arm wrapped around a bright orange basketball and a whistle draped around his neck.
“When I heard about Dr. James Naismith I knew I wanted to be him,” said Austin, who could not find a peach basket that long ago served as a hoop until the iron rim came along. “I love basketball and got to learn more about it.”
Audrey Hinds sat silently holding a frying pan in one hand. When a student pressed a button in her left hand, Hinds gave a lecture on Teflon inventor Roy Plunkett. She explained that his non-stick cooking utensil discovery came by accident.
“Food used to stick to the pan,” Audrey said. “People were eager for an invention like this one.”
While Hinds held a frying pan, Brittany Wilson grasped a chocolate chip cookie. The young cookie connoisseur said the tasty concoction came about by accident when Ruth Wakefield mistakenly poured chopped pieces of chocolate into cookie dough batter.
The mixing of ingredients was a hit with her dinner guests that evening and a new, popular sweet treat was born.
The Meneley students participating in the Wax Museum of Science and Invention include the following:
Student Inventor Invention
Jesse Buchanan Jesse Reno escalator
Marcus Cotton Graham Bell telephone
Dalila Cortez Dr. Charles Drew blood banks
Emily Everhart Joseph Neipce camera
Jeremy Zacaro Theodore Maiman ruby laser
Hunter Fillmore Albert Einstein relativity
Chani Frazier Earl Dickson bandaid
Darian Gentile Henry Ford assembly line
Ashley Godine Josephine Cochrane dishwasher
Audrey Hinds Roy J. Plunkett teflon
Shannon Hubbard Louis Braille Braille
Cooper Jones Orville Wright flyer
Emmett Lane James Watt steam engine
Austin Martin Dr. James Naismit basketball
Conner Michitarian Frank Wittl jet engine
Nathan Miller Wallace Carothers nylon
Savannah Miller Gulielmo Marconi radio
Dalton Moore Charles Goodyear rubber
Raymond Nevers Tomas Adams chewing gum
Sara Runker Samuel Morse telegraph Zoe VanderByl Galileo Galilei telescope
Megan Vaughan Lady Ada Lovelace computer
Christina Williams Thomas Edison lightbulb
Brittany Wilson Ruth Wakefield chip cookie