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Ten-year-old Joe Scism, left, a fifth-grader at Whitworth Elementary School, gives his presentation on inventor Thomas Edison to foruth-graders Ariah Duffin and Jon Schleicher March 13 in the school's computer lab. Scism was one of 29 historical figures in Whitworth's "Hall of Fame Museum," all played by students from teacher Julie Reimer's class.
March 19, 2013
DALLAS -- Isaac Newton was in the library. Wilma Rudolph, too. Thomas Edison and Mark Twain waited in the computer lab while Muhammad Ali and Susan B. Anthony took up temporary residence in Room No. 3.
This wasn't a traveling wax museum at Whitworth Elementary School the morning of March 13, but history brought alive by teacher Julie Reimer's fifth-grade class.
The aforementioned history-makers were part of a group of 29 notable scientists, inventors, politicians, athletes, artists and civil rights leaders that formed Whitworth's "Hall of Fame Museum."
The displays? The students themselves -- posing as their assigned historical figure in costume and ready with a short biographical speech for "museum" visitors.
"Have you ever wanted to do something you always dreamed of, but your parents were against it?" began Daevi Brenneman's speech. "This happened to me, Mary Cassatt."
Cassatt was an American painter and leading artist in the Impressionist movement in the late 1800s. Her choice of career apparently didn't meet with her parents' approval, Brenneman would go on to say, but Cassatt was a success nonetheless.
Daevi Brenneman, as artist Mary Cassatt, examines a painting as Sir Isaac Newton (Camdyn Dunbar) looks on.
"I learned that she did dream about becoming an artist, but she never got to because her family wouldn't send her to art school," Brenneman said between museum visitors. "She went anyway -- she disobeyed her parents -- but it was worth it because she became famous and had a great life."
This is the second year Whitworth has presented the Hall of Fame Museum project, which requires the students to research, write a report and give a speech in class about their historical figures. It touches on history, reading, writing and public speaking.
"It also lets them add a little creativity instead of just doing the same old report," Reimer said.
Many students were surprised at what they found out about their subject's achievements and what lengths they had to go to accomplish them.
Much like Cassatt, Alexis Peters' research into Marie Curie -- the Polish scientist who discovered radium and whose worked contributed to the development of X-rays -- revealed the first woman to win a Nobel Prize had to attend a "secret school" for part of her education because women were not allowed to attend the University of Warsaw at the time.
"I knew she was a scientist, but I didn't know that she was the one who discovered radium and radiation," Peters said of Curie during a break from giving her presentation. "I was kind of surprised."
Peters' mom, Michaela Peters, said the project is a great way for students to learn about doing research and practice giving speeches.
"I think it's so good for the kids," she said. "They get a lot of public speaking experience."