Central Middle School students took on all 200 years of Indiana’s history in a big way: by creating a map of the state that covered the floor of the school’s auxiliary gym for a Bicentennial Legacy Project.
The project, titled the Incredible Indiana History Map, required every student in Alan Birkemeier’s social studies class to learn about Indiana one county at a time. Students drew county names in late August and completed historical research on that county from its beginning to present, including population graphs using census records, Birkemeier said.
After the research stage was completed, students created a to-scale map of their county, with one mile equaling three inches on the map. After piecing together all of Indiana’s 92 counties, the map measured about 70 feet by 40 feet, Birkemeier said.
The purpose? To teach students about the state they call home while teaching them how to research, create an annotated bibliography and utilize other academic subjects.
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“I think it was a good way to tie together doing real research and real interdisciplinary work,” Birkemeier said. “It was really neat to see it come together. The kids were like, ‘Wow, this is really going to work!’”
Students from Central and Lincoln Elementary School were invited to visit and walk around the map Dec. 9, and learn about the unique history of each county.
Although some students were interested in keeping their county, the taped paper did not remove well from the floor, said Birkemeier. And, with a project of such a large size, there was no place to store or save it without it getting destroyed, so it was scrapped. Birkemeier does not have any plans to renew the project in the future as he believes it should be something special — a one-time event for the bicentennial.
“Whenever something like this comes along, it should be special,” Birkemeier said.