This week at PRIED we started a new unit of civics; Religion. I find religion a fascinating topic, and I’m so proud that the U.S. is a country of which everyone is free to practice whatever religion they choose or no religion at all. I know that it is such a privilege to have this right. This choice. I am so glad that we can be equals and yet choose to be different. We aren’t forced to follow a practice we don’t believe in, and we are allowed to share our beliefs without being judged or punished. During this unit, we will be given a religion to research and then create a presentation to share with the class explaining its differences and similarities to other religions, where it is currently practiced, where it originated and so much more. So as an introduction to this project we did an activity about our rights to religion in this country. We looked closer at the details of our rights, and then we were given some scenarios to see how these rights might be applied. We had to decide as a group whether each scenario followed the Constitution or not. We had a few disagreements about this, and I think this helped us to realize why so many people have struggled with these issues and why religion is such a hard thing to deal with in legal situations. I think there are certain things we still haven’t come to an agreement on, but it also helped us realize how important it is to have freedom of religion since many of the situations we looked at exampled outrageous amounts of unfairness to one religion over another. I don’t know that any of us could imagine being forced to practice a religion we don’t understand or be punished and possibly killed if we did not follow orders. I personally loved this exercise and generally love exercises like this because it challenges you to think deeper about our rights as citizens and some of the imperfections of even our amazing country, The United States of America. It also forces you to imagine what it would have been like if we grew up somewhere else or if our founding fathers hadn’t done such a good job because we could be living in a very different world if they weren’t who they were and they didn’t found America the way they did. In the next few weeks we will be working hard on our research about a religion of our choice and present it to our class. I’m very excited to make a creative project and learn about new religions!
On Monday we went on a field trip for art class to the Fonthill Castle and Tileworks. There we got to learn how handmade ceramics/tiles are made. First, the Tileworks gets a shipment of clay every September. Before they can start making the actual tiles they have to make the molds. Once the molds are made, they take clay and push it into the mold. It sits for a few minutes, and when it is ready, they take it out of the mold. They then take a tool to round the edges so that they are smooth when they come out of the kiln. Next, the clay goes in the kiln, and when it comes out, it is painted and glazed. After it is painted and glazed, it goes into the kiln one last time. When it comes out, you have your tile! This field trip was very informative and exciting, and I would love to go back someday.
On Monday we went to the Mercer Museum. While we were on the tour we saw the tiles Henry Mercer made and where he put them in his house. After the tour we went to the tile factory that Henry Mercer built. We saw a video on the process of making the tiles. We also saw a live demonstration of tile making. We saw the tile maker press the tile using a mold. We also saw how they remove and dry the tiles. We are now going to make our own tiles in art class, and I am so excited to do this.
Today we went on a field trip to Fonthill Castle and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works. Both of these buildings were founded and used by Henry Chapman Mercer, an amazing tile maker. He built the castle to live in, but wanted it to be a museum once he died. Even though he wasn’t an architect, he designed the whole house himself. He also built it of concrete, for there was no chance that it would ever burn down. He did this because his uncle owned a large museum filled with sets of armor, but it ended up burning down. Mercer wanted to do everything in his power to avoid this. Throughout the castle, you can see many examples of his works, and even the ceilings are covered in tiles. I think this was an amazing way to build a house. One thing I found funny was that the castle included five bedrooms in total (with only two being on regular use by the housekeeper and Mercer), and each one connected to a separate bathroom. These bathrooms still connected to rest of the house, so whenever you found a bathroom you knew the next room would be a bedroom, and vise versa. Something else that was funny was that most of the house seemed like a maze. There was one intersection that branched off in ten different ways! I couldn’t imagine trying to live there, let alone work there. I felt kind of bad for the tour guides.
Overall, this was an amazing trip, and I would love to go back again to see the parts we were unable to see this time!
We have been working with this organization called Special Spaces to design a bedroom for a girl with cerebral palsy. We have been running fundraisers to get money so that we can buy furniture for her bedroom and bathroom. So far, we have raised more than $1000! We will make her bedroom comfortable and cozy, and we are going to decorate it in the style of Shabby Chic, as that is the style she likes. We are going to give her a lounge area with enough room for both her and one of her friends to sit. I cannot wait to design her room.
In art class we are currently working on artist trading cards. Each student creates multiple pieces of art on a card. We make them using paint, crayon, watercolor, or colored pencils. After we make our cards we will trade with other artists who send us trading cards. Last week a friend of my teacher sent us cards from South Korea that she made. I really enjoy this type of art, and I cannot wait to get more cards.
Last Friday we traded our artist trading cards among the class. Artist trading cards are cards that artists create to trade with other artists. We had to send out e-mails or letters to people who we thought would sent us cards back. We have been working on these cards for four weeks. It was so fun to make them, and I’m excited to see what cards we get back from people around the globe!
We recently started a project about religion. We all chose a religion to research and create a presentation on. I think this is a really interesting project because I don’t think most of us know a lot about religion. There are also a mix of religions in our class which I think makes this even more interesting. The religion I chose was Paganism. Unlike some other religions, Paganism is not very strict and allows for people to follow whatever variation they believe in. An example of this is that Paganism is Polytheistic, but people believe a lot of different things within that. Some people believe that there are multiple gods and goddesses and view them as individuals. On the other hand, some people view them as all of the goddesses being one great goddess and all of the gods being one great God. I think this fact in particular is very interesting because before researching this, I pretty much only knew of more strict religions and not ones that were this flexible. I’m really excited to continue with this project and learn more about this religion and other religions.
Right before PRIED’s winter break we went to Philadelphia and visited the Mütter Museum. When we got there we explored the exhibits. After that we did a class where we learned bone identification. In the bone identification we earned how to find age, race, gender, and height from skulls and bones. We found them by looking at the eye shape, the jaw line, and how wide the pelvis is. To find the height of a person you need to plug measurements into an equation. When we were finished we visited the Alice and Wonderland exhibit. My favorite part of the museum was the fetuses in the jars at different ages.
Last Wednesday we went on a field trip to the Mütter Museum for science. One of the exhibits that really caught my attention was a woman’s body that had basically turned to soap. When she was first discovered, people thought that she had turned to stone. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that instead her fat had turned to soap. Soap is made out of fats, and when she died, her body fat turned into soap, and she was named the Soap Lady. After we looked around the museum we went to a class where we learned how to tell human skeletons apart. Caucasian and European skulls have sunglass shaped eyeholes, whereas African American skulls have square ones. We also learned how to find the gender from the skull. Male skulls have knookles, or dents, in the back of the skull which you can see on a bald man’s head. In all, this field trip was a great learning experience, and most of us really enjoyed it.