Mesoamerica project challenges kids at Carlisle

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Victoria Shelton of Blairs shows a real estate brochure and a yard sign that she created to entice new residents to join her culture.

Students in Damian Dydyn’s seventh-grade geography class at Carlisle School were challenged to think creatively for a recent project on Mesoamerica.
Dydyn, who is in his first year at Carlisle, presented his students with a Bingo Board which contained 24 separate projects about Mesoamerican culture. Much like the game of Bingo, students were asked to fill in five squares on the board either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Those who picked an optional sixth square to complete were able to earn extra credit.
Projects included writing a poem, designing a map, describing native dances, role-playing events and more. For each project, the students could choose to discuss the Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs or Incas. They were given one week to select their desired tasks, conduct their research and complete each project.
“I liked this project because it wasn’t necessarily assigned to us, but we got to choose what we wanted to do. I also liked the project because they were shorter but multiple instead of one big project.,” said student Cole Abercrombie of Danville.

Projects submitted by Walker Davis of Danville include a decipher code and a poem about Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent who was a mythical culture hero for several cultures including the Mayan.

Miguel Arao of Martinsville chose to create a word scramble puzzle using Mesoamerican vocabulary terms including aqueduct, conquistador, hieroglyphics and chinampa. “I really liked drawing and creating the scramble and the image of the god. I also learned about Mesoamerican culture and customs,” he said.
The projects allowed the students to be as creative as they wished. Victoria Shelton of Danville selected the square for drawing an ad enticing citizens to join her civilization and brought that concept to fruition as a real estate brochure and a yard sign for an open house. The original leaflet highlighted the village’s recreation center, ball courts, firepit and aqueducts as selling features.
According to Beth Gammons, director of Middle School, “Activities like this inspire children to learn by allowing them the freedom to express their knowledge in a variety of ways. In the real world, everything is not dictated to us; we must make decisions daily which requires a higher level of thinking. Our faculty at Carlisle work each day to provide opportunities for students to learn in creative ways to showcase their passions and strengths.”
Once the projects were completed, they were displayed, and all students presented their work to their classmates to share the knowledge gained. The projects will remain on display in the Roy Building for other students and guests to view.
Carlisle School is enrolling new students for the 2019-2020 school year and has academic scholarships available for new students entering the 6th, 9th and 10th grades.