This is 'Iolani School

This is 'Iolani School

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sixth Grade Studies the Medieval Times

Every year around this time, sixth grade student at 'Iolani School can be seen sword fighting, shooting arrows, dancing around the May Pole, launching catapults and engaging in activity that normally isn't done in this day and age. That's because it's time for the Medieval Faire. Over the past 6 weeks or so, the sixth grade curriculum is immersed in medieval culture, where teachers have created a themed unit that totally engages their students.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of making going on. For example, in religion class, students learn about psalms and are challenged to write their own, which will be posted up during the faire. In science, students are taught about variables and collecting data. Using a lot of math, groups of two students research, design and create prototype catapults out of cardboard. After testing their prototypes, they create a blueprint, complete with measurements. These blueprints are taken to the Lab where they are scanned and opened in Inkscape. From there students turn their drawings into a graphic file that is sent to the laser cutter and pieces are cut out of wood. These pieces are put together and the catapults are used to launch small projectiles at various angles, with different numbers of rubber bands. The data is collected and analyzed to see which designs and what angles work the best.

But it doesn't stop there. For the faire, each student takes on a specific role. They must research, design and make their own costume and booth, as well as the items they will need. The lab seems to have a revolving door as jesters 3D print heads for their staffs, archers laser cut doves and deer to shot at, and all types of artisans create signs to advertise their wares.

On the day of the faire the making continues as sixth grade students, teachers and parents turn the lawn into a medieval city. They have designed the layout for the tables, booths, May Pole, sword fighting arena, etc. By noon, you would think your were back in merry old England.

When noon rolled around, the faire came to life. Each student had to perform their role; royals, peasants, alchemists, blacksmiths, fortune tellers, knights, etc. You could ask each student about their job, life in medieval times or how society was organized and they could tell you.


Target holders

Deer and doves


 Jester staffs


Blacksmith tools



The amount of learning that happens during this unit is amazing. Students learn to use calipers in the Lab and have to use their knowledge of mathematics to change decimals to fractions and fractions to decimals. Others use CAD software for the first time and create objects that no longer exist. Students work together to problem solve and find solutions to a myriad of problems. By the end of the day, everyone is ready to get back to future, but not without becoming smarter from living a day in the past.

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