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Dispatch from the Middle Ages

Friday, May 25, 2018

This week in addition to attending the tail-end of the Medieval Festival at 4/5 I had the pleasure of reviewing some of the Medieval Simple Machine write-ups and illustrations in the Gallery of the Logan Loft. An integrated unit, Medieval Studies touches social studies, science, math, reading and writing, and even the arts! The simple machines projects draw on STEAM skills: students design a machine, then write a persuasive letter to potential benefactors (royalty) asking for patronage of their work.

This week, among portraits of other worthy machines, I encountered colorful representations of: the Rat Crusher, the Poop Waste Sanitation Machine, the Wall Destroyer, the Pulley Bridge, the Crush-o-Mortar, the Serfing Safari (cart puller), the Medicine Delivery Machine, the Medieval Windmill Override (ouch?), and the ever-practical (olde) catapult!

If, as I hope, I’ve piqued your interest, alas, my editor cautioned me that the full descriptions of the functions of some of the aforementioned contraptions might not be publishable in a weekly (typically) rated-G parent newsletter. Yet ere you seek remonstrances or worse, a pox, on me, I can entertaine ye with an excerpt frome one letter (to the nobles) from a serf in search of support for his machine, developing the skill of advocating for a good concept…

Dear your most Lovely Queens,

Your most regal and elegant highnesses….I have invented something completely wondrous….As of now when we are making buildings the mortar is uneven and it takes many men and many hours to create the mortar...my machine will make it easier...You will benefit from the Crush-o-Mortar. Your mortar will be the envy of all and your buildings will be strong….

The Medieval Festival every other year encompasses much more than pool noodle jousting and juggling… Planning and designing simple machines introduces 4th and 5th graders to real-life analytical thinking in a manner that lends itself to 21st century problem-solving skills. Being curious about 12th century engineering challenges translates into an ability to address 21st century problems, something we and the high schools who accept our graduates know that our alumni bring consistently to bear in their lives after Burgundy!

Medieval work
A selection of this year's presentations about simple machines, on display in the gallery.