The Southside Middle School gymnasium became the place to learn of world culture on May 16. In its eighth year, seventh grade students presented exhibits for their annual World’s Fair – a cross-curriculum research project to enhance learning in reading, math, science, and geography.
Seventh graders spent the two weeks after TCAP researching the countries of the world and creating presentations to educate students about those different countries. Students were able to work on most of their projects during class and were graded according to each course’s rubric. They were required to dress in costume depicting the native dress of their country for the final exhibit.
Approximately 100 students participated in a lottery to choose the country they would research. As their number was called, they could select a country that had not yet been chosen. If a student had a family member or a close connection to a particular country, he or she could request that country. Each student created a brochure describing their country as a reading project. They created graphs for math to illustrate the population, age, and religion of the country. Math also required the country’s currency comparison to the U.S. dollar. They were instructed to design a diorama for science to display native animals and plants from their country. In geography, they created maps and flags to represent their countries.
Each grade level had the opportunity to visit the World’s Fair and see the seventh graders present their research. The event allowed students to teach each other, and the lower grades gained an expectation and hope for their day to host the World’s Fair and make their own presentation.
Several students used modern technology to make their presentations. Samuel Martin used his iPad and Skype to connect with his cousin in Budapest, Hungary, where they were making Hungarian Gulyas – a type of beef stew – outside. As he presented his research, Martin allowed students to ask his cousin questions about the Hungarian culture in a live interview.
Jeffrey Walpole presented a slideshow with pictures from Luxembourg. Autumn Hemontolor also presented a slideshow on her iPad with pictures of various tourist spots in Germany, including the Berlin Wall Memorial Park, the Holocaust Memorial, and the Cologne Cathedral in Bonn, Germany. Dakota Russ presented a slideshow of Panama, Emily Staggs created a slideshow of the Dominican Republic, Abby Groce exhibited slides from Zambia, and Aubree Starnes used her iPad to present pictures from Denmark.
Several students had items that came directly from the countries they researched. Aidan Usher dressed in an authentic Egyptian sheik costume that his grandparents purchased on a trip to Egypt. He displayed a copy of an Egyptian calendar, considered to be the first calendar. He also presented a picture of King Tut with his bride on their honeymoon.
Gabe Jennings presented items from Indonesia, where his aunt and uncle are missionaries. He had a tablecloth from the land and actual Indonesian ruifs, the Indonesian currency. His animal of interest was the komodo dragon, which many Indonesians believe can breathe fire because of its yellow tongue.
Tanner Rowland dressed in native Turkish attire as he displayed his diorama. Native to Turkey are big turkeys, hedgehogs, and wild tortoises. Islam is the predominant religion with 98.99 percent of the population claiming to be Muslim. Rowland also provided a copy of the Quran at his exhibit.
Anthony Torres presented the country of Iran using Iranian vases. He explained that Iran is bigger than the other countries that surround it. Many animals there are considered endangered species, including the Persian leopard.
Jayce Staggs depicted the Netherlands wearing a festive native costume. She explained that a pair of wooden shoes here costs $20.72, while they cost 14.88 in euros. A bonnet costing $12.50 in the U.S. would equate to 9.05 euros.
Wearing a colorful island tunic and scarf, Zoe Long taught about the unique aspects of Madagascar, which is the fourth largest island in the world. Found only in Madagascar are the ring tailed lemur, the Nile crocodile, and the narrow striped mongoose. Madagascar is also home to aloe plants, boa trees, and spiny thickets and is often referred to as the “hidden paradise.”
Josh Haynes represented Saudi Arabia. He explained that 85 percent of the population is Muslim, and their Bible is known as the Quran. Ten percent of Saudi Arabians are Suni, and 5 percent are Christian. The country has a total population of more than 27 million, and the largest age group is 25-54 years of age.
Matthew Winfree displayed an exhibit for Kuwait, which is surrounded by Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and borders the Persian Gulf. Native animals of the country include the camel, the Giselle, and the sand cat. Luxurious homes in Kuwait often look similar to military compounds. Seventy-six percent of the population is Muslim, 17.32 percent is Christian and 5.9 percent is considered other.
Kenley Ford represented Haiti, where the capital is Port-au-Prince. The currency of Haiti is the gourde, and $1 in the U.S. equates to 50 gourdes. A pair of Toms shoes cost $37 in the U.S. and 200 gourdes in Haiti. The total population is nearly 10 million, and the largest age group is 25-54 years of age.
Blake Fraley exhibited Cambodia, considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Cambodia is known for being one of the largest countries for cannibalism due to the great poverty. The population of Cambodia is more than 15 million. About 96.8 percent of that population is Buddhist, 1.4 percent is Muslim, .4 percent is Christian, and .8 percent is other.
The World’s Fair has become a tradition at Southside as it has enhanced learning in all grade levels of the different cultures and geographical features of the world in which we live. As students research each country, they gain an appreciation for that country and an even greater appreciation for our own. Such an appreciation can never be measured by a score but by the changes it makes in each student’s world view.