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Authentic Learning on Display at Saxton Middle's Ancient Egyptian Exhibition

Students create projects that wow teachers and parents alike.

Saxton Middle School's library was turned into a historic showcase Wednesday as the 6th grade students presented the school's second Ancient Egyptian Exhibition. 

From pyramids to masks to bumper stickers, the students unleashed their creative sides in creating projects focusing on the lives of ancient Egyptians. 

The sixth grade curriculum includes studying ancient Egypt, but the sixth grade teachers decided to spice things up a bit and give the students a chance to engage in some old-fashioned hands-on learning. 

"This way parents can come in and see what's happening in the classroom besides just pencil and paper tests which is what is happening in this day and age of assessments," teacher Joan Soldano said, as parents strolled around the library taking a look at the students' masterpieces. "This is authentic learning and this is the way I believe students learn best."

Each student was eager to describe the material involved in their projects, how they put them together and perhaps, most importantly, what they learned along the way. 

"They are very hard to build," Justin said of building pyramids as he stood in front of his own mini-pyramid, which included a latched door. "I didn't really think they were that hard, but I see that they were very hard to do."

Amber's pyramid focused on its inner-workings and she sure knew them cold.

"So when you walk in, there's the antechamber where they kept furniture and then the annex is pretty similar, but the annex usually got robbed and then there was the burial chamber and that's where they put the mummy or whoever died and then in the treasury, they had jewels or they had a spot where they put their organs," she explained. 

Amber's teacher, Keri Hoyt, called the exhibition "an awesome, awesome thing."

"It's so authentic," Hoyt said. "Rather than filling in a Scantron, let's do something creative. We take it from the textbook and transfer it over to let's create something hands-on so it sticks."

It's an approach that has many fans among parents, including Susan Brinkman, whose daughter is in Soldano's class. 

"It's very important as a parent to have a child be excited about what they are working on in school and to have projects that are meaningful and to come here, it's like coming to a museum to see the creativity of the kids, it's not just circling in bubbles on a test," Brinkman said.

"What these teachers are doing, especially Mrs. Soldano is just wonderful," she added. "[My daughter] has just learned so much from this approach."

Check back with Patch tomorrow for a photo gallery showcasing many of the projects that were on display at the exhibition.  

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