The commons area at Pettis County R-XII School in Dresden was transformed into an Inventors Museum Wednesday afternoon, hosted by the fourth grade class.
The fourth graders were each instructed by teacher Mary Meehan to select an invention or inventor to research, and then they portrayed that historical figure in the museum. Each student dressed to look like their inventor and had a tri-fold board with photos and information. Then as museum patrons toured the room, they pressed a “button” on the student’s hand and the inventor came to life, explaining their invention and how it was started.
“It’s a good activity for after MAP testing because it’s a culmination of what they’ve learned this year about research skills, and it’s something different than the curriculum we do the rest of the year,” Meehan said.
Meehan’s 12 students spent a month on their projects. In past years students have portrayed famous Missourians, presidents, and last year students retold their favorite stories. Meehan said it depends on the students what topic is selected, and that “it just goes to show what they can do when they’re engaged in learning.”
Everyone from Wilbur Wright — who built the first successful airplane with his brother Orville — to Louis Braille — the inventor of Braille, the reading system for the blind — was portrayed at the museum. The inventors of marshmallows, Band-Aids, the camera, the yo-yo, Barbie doll, troll dolls, and Legos, were also present. Meehan said she described the wide variety as “silly to significant.”
Deanna Shevchenko portrayed Ole Kirk Christiansen, the inventor of Legos. She said she chose the toy inventor because she has a lot of Legos at home and thought it would be a good idea to learn more about them.
“I never knew they were totally made out of wood, then after testing them they were made out of plastic,” Shevchenko said.
Museum patrons were able to learn about Joseph Niepce, the inventor of the camera, from David Cameron.
“I’ve always liked the camera and my grandma has lots of old cameras,” Cameron said. “She tells me a lot about them.”
Cameron said it was interesting to learn Niepce died of a stroke, and that his original way of taking pictures took too long.
Earle Johnson, the inventor of Band-Aids, was among the inventors present, and was portrayed by Jessica Tienda.
“I learned that a long time ago Band-Aids were 18 inches by 3 inches,” Tienda said. “And it was cool they went into space with astronauts.”
“They all memorized their speeches, which they didn’t think they could do, and they did a good job of presenting,” Meehan said once the museum was about to close. “We practiced making eye contact. They wanted to keep practicing until it was perfect, which is how I knew it was a hit. I’m proud of all of them.”