Latex gloves, a mask, a roll of toilet paper, a photograph of a virtual class meeting, a thermometer, and rulers were among the items recently placed in several time capsules at Roosevelt Intermediate School as part of a 6th grade social studies project on the use of primary and secondary sources.
“We think that including rulers in this time capsule is important because it symbolizes the six feet social distancing rule,” said student Amelia Ing, during an outdoor ceremony on May 7. “What we have learned from this item during the pandemic is it is important to remain social distanced so we don’t spread COVID. We should remember this aspect of the pandemic because this helped us and others stay safe.”
Roosevelt social studies teacher Jim Lane says the 6th graders began working on the project in December, researching primary and secondary sources, proposing and donating the items to go into the time capsules and working in online breakout rooms to draft and edit the speeches for the time capsule ceremonies.
“Teaching the difference between primary and secondary sources and the importance of when to use them and how to properly analyze them is part of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Social Studies,” says Lane. “The social studies department introduces primary and secondary sources to students early in Westfield, with students gradually increasing the sophistication of applying these source types while also expanding the scope and range of types of these two main categories of sources.”
“A primary source includes images and other materials that have specific evidence towards an important historical topic,” noted students Mia O’Reilly and Declan Vedder, as the time capsule ceremony began. “Primary sources are important because people in the future can relate back to the past and learn about the history of historical human events that happened. A time capsule is a primary source because the items going in it are evidence from specific historical events.”
Lane says that plans for a future time capsule opening are being discussed. And he points to the collaborative, cooperative effort involving students, parents, fellow 6th grade social studies teacher Jeffrey Knight, in-class support teacher Julia Mirfield, media specialist Megan Lynn who livestreamed the event for remote students, support staff, and administrators.
Still he says: “I think it is most important to emphasize the idea that AMAZING things can happen for our kids’ learning when no one cares who gets the credit. Roosevelt Intermediate School is an amazing place in that regard.”
Also included in the time capsule is a printed calendar page with the circled date of March 13, 2020.
“We included this item so that we can remember the exact date that our worlds turned upside down,” said Whitney Crooks about the day the school district announced that all students and staff would move to remote learning. “We should remember this item so that we can always know the start to a crazy year.”