Talk about random post inspiration… I was leaving one of my flute-teaching jobs yesterday afternoon, which is at a local private school, with Nickel Creek’s “When In Rome” stuck in my head for no reason, and it brought to mind this school assignment I’d had back in junior high that had to do with Rome. Which led to thinking about all sorts of random memories of creativity connected to my high school life. I actually enjoyed many of my school projects, since my school was pretty good about encouraging creativity in the execution. Since I didn’t have a blog back then, please indulge me while I reminisce a bit now. (Even though, sadly, I don’t have pictures of the best ones. I wish I did.)
- The project that started this whole runaway train of thought: the Rome project. When I was in 8th grade, we were doing a unit on ancient Rome in my history class, and each student got assigned a different aspect of life in Rome to research. We were supposed to give an oral report and, I can’t remember if it was required or just one of the options, a visual aid. I got assigned weapons and armor. Which I’d thought was pretty lame, at first… I was a good bit girlier back then than I am now, and with the way my movie/literature interests have evolved, I’d probably think that was a pretty sweet assignment now. But I was pretty excited about the project by the end, mostly due to my visual aid: I bought a Ken doll (the only one I ever owned, for the record) and turned him into a Roman centurion. Made a little red tunic for him, and then I made the plate armor out of strips of cardboard covered with aluminum foil. That part looked pretty good. I also remember painting the gladiator lace-up sandals directly onto his legs. The part I had the most trouble with was his helmet– I ended up making it out of polymer clay (the paintable kind, because this was just when it was starting to come out as a craft supply), and it was way too big because I couldn’t bake it directly onto his head. I think I may have made the sword out of clay too. The clay parts of the outfit didn’t survive long past the due date, but I really did think that armor was pretty good.
- This may have also been an 8th grade project–I had the same teacher for 11th grade chemistry, but I’m pretty sure this was the junior high class because I had two lab partners in chem and only one partner for this particular project. The chemistry teacher at my school (private school, and 7th-12th were in the same building, so we had a lot of overlapping teachers between junior and high school) was rather quirky, and we were doing a basic chemistry unit. Our last assignment before Christmas break was to pair up and make her a chemistry-related Christmas T-shirt. So my best friend and I teamed up to make her a snowflake shirt, based on hexagon-shaped chemical formulas. Typical early 90s job in glittery puffy paint, but I still think we had one of the best shirts in the class. Of course, I have no idea how those snowflakes would have reacted to each other had they really been together in a test tube…for all I know, we created a formula to make a minor explosion.
- Now this one I do actually still have, though it’s buried in my bedroom at the moment. For one of my (I’m pretty sure it’s history) classes, we had to do a geneaology project about our families, back to our great-grandparents, and include pictures and such. I made mine kind of scrapbook-style (I think this was when I was first starting to get into it, thanks to a scrapbooking kit that one of my crafty aunts gave me for Christmas one year. At any rate, I did have the deckle scissors, and I know I didn’t have those until I started doing that.)–had some really flimsy paper that may or may not have been sheets of newsprint, but at any rate it looked old. And so I printed everything onto that, glued my photocopies of the pictures on the same stuff, and did a little bookbinding project (the only one I ever did that turned out– good thing, since I was getting graded!) with mat board covered with black construction paper and a dark mulberry paper that I drew the title on with a gold pen. It was very typically heritage-looking. Fitting for the subject, but I don’t think I’m ever going to do one that style again. I like brighter colors. Anyway, as I said, I do still have that one. I guess I figured it might be good to pass along to my non-existent kids someday. But I can at least take a picture to post on here sometime.
- One of my favorites was actually for an English class–sophomore year American Lit. We were studying John Steinbeck, and were supposed to do some kind of dramatic summary in groups. I was fortunate to get into a rather creative group (the groups were divided based on who picked what book, and ours was The Moon Is Down, which is the only Steinbeck book I’ve ever read and actually liked.) So we decided that for our presentation, rather than act it out ourselves, we would do a puppet show. So we spent a couple long afternoons making heads out of paper mache and yarn, my mom was kind enough to help us with the “costumes” since we were on a time crunch, and my one friend rigged up some kind of stage that we could hang across the classroom doorway while we were in the hall. Our theme music was the Imperial March from Star Wars. We made scrolling (sort of) credits to go on top of them. And little sticks of felt dynamite hanging from parachutes, which we tied to miniature Hershey’s bars and threw at our classmates during the show (in the book, the people resisting the Nazis air-dropped dynamite tied to chocolate bars so that kids would pick them up and bring them home to their parents). Needless to say, that made our presentation the most popular. 😉 I really wish I could see the video of that again… one of my friends in the group videotaped it, and I saw it at her house once during a sleepover, but this was before digital videocameras and it was some kind of format that couldn’t be copied onto VHS with what they had or something. Oh well.
- Another science-class project, and the only thing I liked about freshman year physical science…we had a “design your own experiment” project that we had to do, and my best friend and I decided that for our scientific experiment, we were going to make cookies and see what effects certain compounds common in baking (i.e. salt, baking powder–see, this is chemistry!) had on the finished products. (I know there was a third ingredient involved, but I can’t remember what.) So we made four batches of chocolate chip cookies–a “control” group made normally, and then leaving one of the three test ingredients out of each of the other three batches. And then we ate them and recorded the taste-test results. Note to self: Never leave the baking powder/soda out of your cookies again.
- The last one I remember doesn’t actually relate to a project, but it was craftiness in school. There was this rule during finals week that, even when you finished your test, you had to stay in the classroom until the period was over. We all knew that our 9th-grade civics class was going to be a piece of cake, and there weren’t really any rules restricting what we could do afterwards as long as we were quiet enough for those still taking tests, so I brought a small case of beads into the test and worked on a necklace after I was done. It was one of those seed bead daisy chain ones. The reason I remember this, other than making necklaces in school, was because my classmates apparently thought this was rather entertaining. One of the guys (the one that at least half the girls in my class had a crush on at one time or another) even asked if he could try it. So I told him how, and he made one of the daisies on my necklace. (I still have that necklace too, actually.)
It was kind of fun to think back on those, actually. I may have to do another nostalgia post about those teenage clothes sewing projects that I also wish I had pictures of, if only for me to laugh at.