Thursday morning provided a learning experience for people of all ages.

More than 20 Emporia State students put on a “living wax museum” in Visser Hall as part of their Block 1 classes in the elementary education program.

The ESU students were dressed the part of their persona and had stations set up all around the room, with biographical information ranging from Walt Disney to Amelia Earhart to Bill Self to Taylor Swift to JK Rowling.

“It was really fun, portraying another person,” said Jazmin Williams, who was serving as American gymnast Simone Biles. “You get to dig into their life and learn more about them. We’re trying to find fun ways for them to try to learn and get that research in without having to do (normal) research projects.”

The station-to-station presentation is something the classes typically do each semester, though during the school year it is geared primarily toward visiting elementary schools and Kansas history.

“We’re just trying to do a lot more authentic learning with them,” said Todd Robert, instructor in ESU’s Department of Elementary Education. “(These are) things they can actually go out and do in the classroom with their own students, where it’s not just a textbook, but they’re actually going and constructing ... their own knowledge and doing some research. Then they get to showcase it in other ways than just writing a paper.”

The summer course allows for more freedom, not only in choice of biographical material but in attendees as the event was open to the public, with as many adults and fellow college students making rounds as there were younger children.

“It really helps us with talking in front of people,” Williams said. “A lot of us are more comfortable talking in front of kids, but we had a lot of adults come through. (We’re getting) more comfortable in using our teaching voices to try and portray our personas as best as we can.”

The 23 students each had a station that included a cardboard standup with biographical information, photographs or other art and, in some cases, unique props representing their character while they stood nearby and recounted how they got their beginnings and significant facts in their history to interested passers by.

“One of the big things in education is giving them the freedom to be able to select who they do,” Robert said. “If you give them that opportunity, they’re going to pick somebody they want ... to research and find information about, so they’re more likely to actually invest in it. You can see by the way they dress up, their tri-folds that they do, all those types of stuff. They’re much more invested in their actual education.”

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