Pacific Cascade students experience ancient Egypt at King Tut exhibit
October 9, 2012
By Lillian O'Rorke
Every year, students across the country study ancient civilizations, but how many of them get to experience one?
For a few hours Sept. 25, that’s exactly what the nearly 250 sixth-grade students from Pacific Cascade Middle School got to do.
Walking from one dark room to the next at the Pacific Science Center Tutankhamun exhibit was like taking a step back in history 5,000 years, as busts of pharaohs, golden artifacts and a sarcophagus for a royal cat radiated under the display spotlights.
“It’s really cool,” Caulain Saper said.
The 11-year old stood up from kneeling to get a better look at the golden finger protectors, toe protectors and pair of sandals that Tutankhamun, the boy king of Egypt, was still wearing when British explorer Howard Carter unwrapped the mummy nearly 90 years ago.
“I was really excited, because I know it’s not going to be here next year,” Caulain said. “It’s especially important, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see something like this and learn a lot about the past.”
One of the things sixth-grade students study at Pacific Cascade is ancient civilization, which includes units on Rome, Greece, China and Egypt. So, when teachers at the school found out that the King Tut exhibit would come to Seattle before ending its North American tour, they jumped on the chance to take students beyond their textbooks.
“When we go back and study this unit, we can talk about the things they saw,” sixth-grade humanities teacher Craig McGhee said.
When studying the Egyptians, he said he likes to discuss their customs and beliefs, diving into the different monotheistic and polytheistic religions. Seeing the different artifacts helps, he explained, bring the lessons to life.
“One of our focuses we are trying to do in sixth grade is make it more real to the students,” he said. “How do their customs and beliefs relate to the ancient Egyptians? And hopefully by studying that, they can relate to other cultures.”
During their visit to the Pacific Science Center, the students went on a “King Tut Exhibition Scavenger Hunt” and had to find answers to things like, “On the colossal statue of Tutankhamun ‘Tut’ is missing is [blank] arm.”
Pacific Cascade Middle School
Johnny Murphy didn’t have any trouble coming up with the answer — King Tut’s left arm. The 10-foot quartzite statue impressed Johnny the most.
“It just seemed like it was really, really cool and it took a long time to make,” he said.
With more than 100 items on display that span 2,000 years of Egyptian dynasties, classmate Yusef Hussein couldn’t pick a favorite.
“It’s that good, so I’m not sure,” he said.
McGhee, who in his many travels has visited Egypt and toured through the ancient Egyptian collection at the British Museum in London, said he’s glad his students are getting this opportunity.
“I know it’s not like the British Museum or other places, but it’s still pretty fantastic for the kids,” he said. “Each kid comes away with something different. We really tried to prep the kids to find that one special thing they can remember, instead of just rushing through the exhibit.”
For Olivia Snook, that one special thing was the artistry.
“I liked how they made all the different Egyptian coffins,” she said. “They had these magnificent details I could never draw.”
“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” will be on display at the Pacific Science Center through Jan. 6, 2013.