Twentieth Century Box - A how to guide
An Explanation of the project from my student, Aidan McGrath
This semester, in our Humanities and Art courses, we explored the twentieth century uniquely and quite intriguingly. Here at High Tech High we exemplify project based learning and thus delved into the twentieth century by crafting a final deliverable that was as much a work of art as it was a testament to what we had learned over the semester. Our final piece of artwork was to be a cigar box. Each student decorated their own box, filled it with little books, pamphlets, podcasts, and videos about a subject near and dear to their heart, and found an artifact to represent our research. In the end, we created a final product that any High Tech High student would be proud of.
The exhibition space was in the center of the school's commons, in a cube of bookshelves. We had a student "Gallery Watching" to help students and visitors with the exhibition. We got the idea for this exhibition design from an the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles the semester before.
The first step was, naturally, to choose our topics. Each student went through an individual process to determine what their project would be about. After discussing with their peers and the teachers, my fellow students and I chose our topics. Each student picked a different person, event, time, or place in the twentieth century. Topics ranged from Pixar to Robert Frost to the Russian Revolution. In this way, it was ensured that every box would be unique.
Our first deliverable was an Assumption at Zero. This booklet documented our thoughts on our topics before we began research. Our uneducated opinions were the number one priority in this piece. Each student wrote and illustrated their own assumption at zero. The overwhelming majority of the books were colored in photoshop. After discussing our thoughts in our Assumptions at Zero, we began research.
After conducting some serious research, we went to work writing a research paper. This process educated us and made us experts in our individual topics. These final products were designed to give those who viewed our boxes actual information on the subject contained within them. Again, each student wrote and illustrated their books using Photoshop. The research papers were significantly longer than our assumptions at zero.
After finishing our research papers, we moved on to my personal favorite part of the entire project: the historical Fiction. In this booklet, students used the knowledge they had gained in the previous research paper to write and illustrate a story. These pieces utilized the subject to create a fictional tale set in reality. Students were able to take a lot of liberty while writing this particular piece. Most students watercolored their images for this deliverable. The historical Fiction was the piece that I personally was the most proud of.
After completing their booklets, the students moved on to decorating their boxes. Many students printed stickers or painted the tops of their boxes. In addition, students created or found an artifact related to their subject and placed it in their box. The decorated box and artifact helped add a sense of realism to the entire project and accented the other three deliverables nicely.
This was truly one of the better projects I've done during my time in the High Tech system. I was able to research what I wanted, create art that I was actually proud of, and in the end, made a final product that I thought really represented my subject as a whole. I'm not a huge history buff, so I thought it'd be tough to find a subject I'm interested in.
In an attempt to find a topic that interested me, I decided to pick the 1947 Roswell Incident, as it's a pretty odd event. The infamous crash captured my attention from the get-go. After crafting my research and creating my Assumption at Zero and research booklet, I could hardly wait to write and illustrate my historical Fiction. I love writing Fiction, and naturally, this meant that Historical Fiction would be my favorite part of the project. I came to adore the wacky little story I'd written. I managed to connect the Roswell crash to a story born entirely of my own imagination. After printing my book and adding it to my box, I had to decorate my box. I wanted it to look as though my box actually contained information from the United States Military. I stenciled a United States Army star logo on the cover and painted a classified symbol over it. In the end, I think that my box was pretty
good-looking. Between my booklets, the illustrations, and my box, I believe I made a project worthy of representing the Roswell Incident. I'm glad I did this project as my final deliverable for High Tech High. It was fitting that my last project was one of the best I've ever done.