All that Glitters is Not Gold: Genuinely Creative History Fair Projects

Creativity is a tricky concept for middle schoolers. Many think glitter will make a project creative. Or that Christmas lights around the border help. Those are decorations, not creative thinking. Creativity requires imagination or an original idea…something which helps tell your story; simply making your project “cute” does not make it a creative one. Interestingly, here is a REAL example from Sarah B (2014) creatively using Christmas lights. This use is simple and exemplifies using something with imagination and originality.

lights-example
The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago was the world’s first demonstration of electricity, pioneering Westinghouse & Tesla’s system to majestically illuminate the “White City.”

Mrs. Myers shared an incredible example of creativity, too. This second grader – with parental guidance and support – designed an incredible board to not only teach about Vermont, but utilized her technology interest, too.

Lakeview students are doing the same. STE(A)M is a driving force in that creative thinking. Students in our district have always had resources, but the training and support from our superb Art, Science, and STEM educators lead students to execute that creativity in a real way. We’re seeing students demonstrating the kind of thinking and multi-curricular thinking that a 21st-century classroom should encourage. It’s exciting to see students independently and enthusiastically think of ways to use their learning beyond the confines of a specific classroom. Here are some examples of History Fair projects showing genuinely creative thinking.

“For History Fair this year, I wanted to do something that stood out from the other projects. I am excited to be collaborating and experimenting with our STEM teacher to make a button to attach to my project made out of a 3D printed button. Since I am doing Martin Luther King and The Chicago Freedom Movement, I wanted to install a part of his speech inside the button to put on my exhibit. When people come up to my project they can press the button and listen to a part of MLK’s speech that he gave here in Chicago.” – Juliana 

“We are using some cool techniques that are incorporated with Stem, we are using our creative minds that help us with our project. We are going to make an elevator that we can use some of our stem techniques for and they will help improve our ideas because they are great things that we will need to know for the rest of our lives.” – Delaney, Hannah, and Amanda 

“Throughout our project, we have had interviews with two Secret Service Agents, and the information we got from them has been very helpful. We are trying to get a third interview with another Special Agent who took a bullet for President Reagan. We also are creating a little scene in front with Special Agents and presidential limos.” – Katie, Anna, and Bella

“My idea for the project is to create a game. I want people to be able to play the game if they don’t want to read about it. I was thinking it would be called along the lines of, “Where did the Eighth Go?” It would take you through the trial as one of the Chicago Seven and you would have to figure out what happened to Bobby Seale. It would also explain the trial with questions and speech bubbles.” – Ysabel

“Our History Fair project is on the 1919 Race Riot, so it was during the “Red Summer” of 1919. We are going to make paper cut-outs of people rioting. We will tape them to the bottom of our black tri-fold and spray paint with red over them. When the paint dries, we will take the paper cut-outs off of the tri-fold so that the black is showing. This will make a silhouette of a riot scene. Another idea we had in mind in addition to the silhouette was to take lights and put some red and orange tissue paper over the lights. We would cut the tissue paper in the shape of flames, making it look like there is a fire. For our large titleboard, we will take masking tape and “write” our title: “The Chicago Race Riot.” We will spray paint with red over the tape, peel off the tape when the paint dries, and our title will be visible in the negative space. We will put our subtitle, “In the Red Summer of 1919,” under the main title. We will incorporate the color red throughout our project, giving red borders around visuals, captions, and text. This shows the theme of the ‘Red Summer.'” – Katie & Ashley

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