Clarksville Middle students stage exhibit at Museum of Industry Work on display until May 2 WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

April 08, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Just as Rome's religious hierarchy was aghast when Galileo shattered myths about the solar system, the queen of England was moved in 1775 to punish another inventor, Sir John Harrington, for publishing the results of his more terrestrial work.

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of some Clarksville Middle School students, both inventors have again been brought to the public's attention.

Visitors to the Baltimore Museum of Industry at Baltimore's Inner Harbor can learn about the invention of the queen's flush toilet and a number of other pre-1900s inventions and industries.

"We have been really, really impressed with the creativity of all these kids," said Virginia Remsburg, the museum's assistant curator. Ms. Remsburg and exhibit designer Mara O'Connell gave the students pointers on how to present their material for the museum's first student-produced exhibition.

The eighth-grade members of the Gifted and Talented program at Clarksville Middle visited the museum Monday morning, setting up their handmade and painstakingly researched exhibits. Their work will remain on display until May 2, and will be highlighted on "Thank You! Day," April 18, which features free admission.

Besides "The toilet, then and now," and an exhibit outlining the history of telescopes, the students chose a variety of subjects to research and teach the public about.

The bicycle, camera, cannon, steam engine and submarine are the featured inventions, while the Baltimore Zoo, the McCormick Spice Co., 1800s architecture, bathing suit design and candy making are the Baltimore institutions and industries in the displays.

The exhibits were the result of a "Type III Investigation," a gifted and talented activity aimed at solving a real problem with a product that reaches a real audience, said Annette Kuperman, who teaches Clarksville's gifted students.

Research done over three months included traditional book work as well as visits to some of the institutions. Ms. Kuperman said the students who collaborated on the McCormick display visited the company's new factory in Hunt Valley, for example.

Students learned a variety of research techniques and possible complications, such as the one discovered by Heather Gilbertson, 13, of Highland, Jill Rupprecht, 14, of Dayton, and Ann Green, 14, of Highland.

To help them learn about 1800s architecture in the Baltimore area, they sought out the services of an expert in the field who conducts architectural tours, Ann explained.

"But she wanted to charge them a couple hundred bucks, so I said no," Ms. Kuperman said.

The three students still managed to put together photographs and narratives about buildings constructed in the early, middle and late 1800s, and definitions of a variety of architectural styles.

Other exhibitors, such as Natalie Baker, 14, of Fulton, and Mackenzie Cross and Reagan Kimball of Clarksville, both 14, opted for a more three-dimensional display.

Their history of the toilet featured a foot-high wooden outhouse model and a pint-sized ceramic toilet.

Although the toilet exhibit seemed to attract the attention of both the students and museum staff, Reagan downplayed her involvement. "I wasn't here when they chose it," she said, moments before pointing proudly to a diagram of a modern toilet and declaring, "We got that from a plumbing book!"

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