Mayfield Junior School’s 7th Graders Create Natural History Museum

How well does one know the local history and environment? How does personal histories, experiences and interests fit into the bigger picture? Mayfield’s 7th graders were tasked with exploring this connection and creating Mayfield’s first Natural History Museum for their 2014 Culminating Project.

To focus their research and collect and organize materials as the curator of an interactive exhibit, the students first identified a personal “encounter” they had with either a historical or ecological element in the local environment. This experience then became the departure point for uncovering the historical/cultural or environmental context behind it. Using the web and printed materials to start many extended their research to primary sources at museums or libraries, one-on-one interviews and experimentation. Once their research was complete, students built and assembled exhibits that featured a written element, graphics and an interactive portion to engage visitors.

For two days the Hayden Performing Arts Center became Mayfield’s own Natural History Museum as the 7th graders shared their work with the student body, teachers and parents. The range of topics explored was extraordinary and included the physics of dance and the evolution of Hip Hop, the history of GMOs and the value of organic foods, parrot populations in Pasadena, World War II aircraft, wave photography, Lebanese and Syrian immigration, pentimenti and many more.

Mayfield Junior School, 405 South Euclid Ave., Pasadena, (626) 796-2774 or visit

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