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March 31, 2000

Children curate exhibits on history of education

Exhibits on the history of education curated by local schoolchildren will be on display during two weeklong shows in the Cotsen Children's Library at Princeton University, beginning April 3. They are the culmination of a program called Young Curators, developed by the Cotsen Children's Library last fall and piloted this spring in five Princeton classrooms.

The Young Curators exhibition will run from Monday, April 3 through Saturday, April 15 in the gallery of the Cotsen Children's Library, on the main floor of Firestone Library on the Princeton University campus.

The first show, which runs April 3-7, will feature two exhibits. "Netting Poseidon's Knowledge: How Children Have Learned about the Sea" is the work of Kathy Murtaugh's second-graders at Community Park School. Included in the exhibit are recordings of the children retelling ancient tales of the sea. Fourth-graders in Amy Pearlmutter's class at Littlebrook School curated "Learning Math: Changes Over Time." Their inventive displays include giant "math manipulatives" - a four-foot high calculator with buttons that lift to reveal interesting facts, and cubes with quotes from parents who were interviewed about their attitudes toward math printed on each face.

A second set of exhibits will be on display in the Cotsen gallery from April 10-15. Students in Heather Campbell and Donna Eisenacher's fifth grades at Johnson Park are exhibiting "A Typical School Day throughout Our Country's History." Visitors are invited to sit in seven different school desks from the 19th and early 20th centuries and vote for the one that is most comfortable. Included among the many "historic" objects in this exhibit is a relic of the 1960's -- a manual typewriter.

 Two middle school exhibits are also part of the second exhibition. Visitors will make and wear dunce caps as they relive the good old golden rule days in "The Tune of the Hickory Stick: The History of Punishment in American Schools," curated by Bob Nelson's seventh-graders. Shannon Dahl's eighth-graders review a century of century of dress codes, slang, and popular paraphernalia in "School Fads and Fashions: What Were You Thinking?" The exhibit offers a nostalgic look into lockers stuffed with artifacts of each decade.

The Cotsen Children's Library in Firestone Library is at the corner of Nassau Street and Washington Road. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.