Article: How to Make a Mummy

How to Make a Mummy

Two students holding their apple mummy

Exploring the mysteries of ancient Egypt along with the everyday lives of its people is all part of the learning journey undertaken in sixth grade social studies at Churchville-Chili Middle School. This year, the adventure has a new twist: the addition of experiential learning activities to the standard Ancient Civilizations curriculum.

The Churchville-Chili School District has been integrating experiential learning (learning by doing) into required middle school science curriculum for several years, offering engaging and imaginative enrichment experiences. New hands-on social studies experiments, like this one in Egyptian mummification techniques, are challenging students to delve deeper into cultures and history. By studying mummification, students are asking more questions about this society’s religious beliefs and cultural norms, in addition to testing the scientific principles behind the fascinating preservation practice.

Apples replaced the usual subjects of mummification for the school’s curious sixth graders. “Each student team chose a combination of three moisture-leaching ingredients, like salt, baking soda, vinegar or silica gel to cover their apple in,” said Enrichment Specialist Andrea Lynch. “Some of them carved faces in their apples or cut out “organs” to see how that would affect their results. Teams chose to either wrap their apple-mummies in gauze or leave them unwrapped.”

Precise measurements were taken of starting weight, and all the apples were put into closed, dark “coffins” (cardboard boxes). “Students will take their mummies out once a week to examine them and collect data on how much mass is being lost,” said Lynch. “After at least four weeks, we’ll compare results and analyze to determine which materials worked the best to dry and preserve the apples.”

The school’s team of enrichment specialists – Lynch, Shannon Barton, Stephanie Ricci and Patti Saucke – are as curious and excited about the final results as any of their students. “This is the first time we’ve tried this,” said Lynch. “We can’t wait to see what happens!”

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