What was it like to be an immigrant?

Have you been to Lowell’s Historic Museum? Chickering’s 4th graders have!

Tsongas Historic Museum sits along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts. Here you can learn and experience what it was like to work in the mills, learn about different immigrant groups that settled in Lowell, and experience what the immigrants felt. You can participate in a town meeting and tour a boarding house for mill girls.

BANG! SCRATCH! BANG! SCRATCH! that was the rhythm of the weaving machines. The noise was deafening and we only heard 12 out of the one hundred machines on one floor of the mill. It must have been hot and humid in the mill because they pumped steam into the room so the cotton fibers wouldn’t dry up and the machines generated a lot of heat. It must have been very hard for the workers to work 12-15 hour days in the hot, noisy mills.

We roll-played immigrants “Coming to America”. As we entered the processing center, we greeted the officer in our native language and handed him our passport to be stamped. He told us we are good to go and we traveled to our ethnic neighborhood in the city of Lowell. We unpacked our baggage and we sorted it to determine what was important to our immigrant family. Then the immigrant families showed what they brought with them. Most immigrant groups brought a musical instrument, such as cymbals or an accordion. Being an immigrant in a new country must have been scary especially if you didn’t speak the native language.

We attended a town meeting to address the issue of misbehaving Irish youth who were vandalizing local businesses and buildings in Lowell. Each student was assigned a role, for example, farmers, merchants, or mill workers. Women may have attended but could not talk or vote. Four students were selected as selectmen and one as moderator. Several farmers proposed that sending Irish immigrant children to school may help stop all of the vandalizing and stealing. Merchants were frustrated from all of the graffiti and egging of their businesses. A vote was taken to establish schools for Irish children so they may attend while their parents worked in the canals and mills. Historically the vote was in favor of establishing a school for these children. Depending on which fourth grade class town meeting you attended, the vote may have been different than what actually happened in Lowell.

Would you like to sleep in a bed with an absolute stranger? That is what the mill workers did! A bell rang at 4 in the morning so they could report to the mill by 5 am. They worked until 7 am, went back to the boarding house had a large breakfast of eggs, porridge, bread, bacon, ham and much more. They needed to eat all this in 30 minutes and get right back to the mill. A bell rang at dinner time (noon) and the process was repeated again when the the bell rang at 7 pm and the girls returned for supper and bed. What a day!!

The life of an immigrant was very hard and difficult. To experience what it was like to be an immigrant back in the late 19th and 20th centuries make a visit to the Tsongas Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.A. It’s a great experience!

reported by: Coleman, Adam, Will G., and Matty

*** Photo of map, displayed above, from the brochure titled “Lowell” produced by Lowell National Historical Park, Massachusetts and National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2000.

Pumpkins in a library?

Who has ever heard of that! 

The kindergarteners started to grow pumpkins 104 days ago on September 25th. Right now the pumpkins have male flowers and have large green leaves! The vines are fuzzy and 48in long, and they are growing into each other.  The flowers are a pale yellow and and you can see the veins and moistness in the petals.

Over the last few weeks we have been interviewing kindergarten students from each class.  They had really interesting things to say for each question. The first question that we asked was “What steps did you take to be a grow pumpkins?” The most popular things were water and seeds. A couple of  students said vines, dirt and water. One student that was absent said that “Mrs. Chase just brought them in.” 

“The second question was “Do you like being a scientist?” The almost all of the answers were “yes” but their reasons were because “it is fun”, “learn new things,” and “you get to figure things out.” One kid seemed like he got up on the wrong side of the bed, because he did not want to answer any questions. 

“How big do you think your pumpkin is going to get?” was the third question.The assortment of answers were cute. They ranged from as small as “3 inches” to as large as “big as the school!”

As of right now there are no female buds. We think it is because the library is too cold, so it is hard for the pumpkins to grow. The Kindergarteners seem to have faith in their pumpkins. We don’t know if the pumpkins will grow, but we do know it took a lot of hard work to get this far.

Reported by:  Griffin, Aryana, Lucy, Andrew, and Jude

Creative Teamwork

Destination Imagination is a program in which your team works together and solves a challenge that they are required to do. It is a creative educational programteamwork to solve an instant challange that encourages “three life-long values: creativity, teamwork, and problem solving.”* Every year there is a tournament that includes 125,000 students from more than 30 countries, teams have to think in a set period of time and present their performance to the judges. Not only do they learn basic knowledge they get to unleash their imagination to a higher level. Destination Imagination is from kindergarden to university levels and teams are from 2-7 people. There are five age levels in D.I. the first one is Rising Stars it is from (ages 4 to 7), the next age level is Elementary its from (3rd to 5th grade), Middle is the next group it is from (6th to 8th grade), the next group is Secondary and is from (9th to 12th grade), the final age group is University and is (University level). Teams compete in 1 of 7 challenges, which they have weeks to months to solve. This year’s challenges are:

  • “Assembly Required” which is technical – design and build equipment that retrieves parts and delivers products
  • “The Solar Stage” which is scientific – Create and present a theatrical performance that tells a story about the use of solar energy.
  • “Coming Attractions” which is fine arts – Present a movie trailer involving characters from at least to nations.
  • “News To Me” which is improvisational – learn about different types of news stories.
  • “Hold It” which is structural – design build and test and a structure made entirely out of wood and glue to hold a weight and contain tournament provided golf balls.
  • “The World Canvas” which is project – use creative problem solving tools to identify and select at least one real community need.
  • “Built To Last” (Rising Stars Only, non-competitive) Learn about toys, and create a play about the last toy that will ever be made.

D.I.(Destination Imagination) was piloted last year in Chickering School. We talked with five students that did Destination ImageNation. The first question we asked was “What do you like best about Destination Imagination?”  Two of the students liked making props and competing; another liked getting to know her strengths and weaknesses; another boy liked the instant challenges; and another girl liked making friends. This year Chickering School and our sister school Pine Hill in Sherborn will have six teams. Five of the teams will be doing “Coming Attractions” and the sixth team chose the “Solar Stage”. This year all students participating are in the fourth and fifth grade. We wish all the teams the best of luck in this year’s competition.

Reported by; Jay, Matthew S., and Riley

* www.IDODI.org copyright 2011 Destination ImagiNation, Inc. 21 November 2011.