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Class creates memorial to Kristallnacht victims

April 12, 2018

Eighth grade language arts students honored victims of the Holocaust in a STEAM project unlike any other. Students selected items that reflected the memories and lives of those lost and began a crystallization process to preserve and transform them using Borax and water. Students then worked to curate the exhibit and write memoirs from the point of the view of their selected items.

“That art installation has been a great vehicle for learning,” teacher Donna Pilgrim said. “I hope it has driven home the lessons of The Holocaust for my students.

The idea of crystallization came from a session at the 2018 Texas STEAM Summit where Mrs. Pilgrim learned how to grow the unique crystals on paperback books. She then experimented at home with a fellow teacher, Katie Lopez, and sparked the idea to use this method for a memorial.

“I kept wondering, "Is that too random or silly?" I asked my students if they wanted to take this on, and they were excited to create an exhibit,” Pilgrim said. “As to the exhibit itself, it has spurred the desire for deeper learning. Becoming "curators" has given my students the chance to communicate their deeper learning with others.”

Students are now remodeling the exhibit to include wall text that will showcase further research on the topic. In the first stage of the project, they hosted a Holocaust Survivor, Ruth Steinfeld, who spoke about her experiences with the students and saw the exhibit. Pilgrim will be attending the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers' Program this summer thanks to her work on this curriculum.