Archive for May, 2013

Home Homework is Baaaaack!


I thought we were safe from intense home projects that parents inevitably get dragged into because both Zs had entered middle school. But, no. Just when I thought it was safe to get back in the water, Zoe, of all people, came home this school year with two large-ish home projects. (Again, belated thank yous to my Mum for all the dioramas she built for me — she was so good!)

The first project was a poster (whew, right up my alley, I’m queen of the posters). Zoe and a friend had to do a social studies assignment in Spanish about ancient China. Awesome! Unfortunately, they spent all day researching and dithering as to what their ultimate topic was going to be, not settling on Wu ZeTian until the 11th hour. Ms. Wu’s story was fascinating and we had some great discussions about her rise from a lower level concubine to essentially ruling all of China from 660 to 705, after her husband was debilitated by a stroke. (Tom and I certainly didn’t know squat about the only female ruler of Imperial China, so Zoe and her friend taught us a lot.)

Of course, the earnest 8th graders didn’t budget much time for the poster building, so it was rather hectic at the end. They did a great job constructing a timeline and describing various elements of her life in Spanish, which can be enlarged upper left.

The second project was very unusual. Zoe was studying medieval times and was supposed to do a project, any project, to demonstrate something from that era. She is an awesome catapult constructor, so she decided to build a working catapult, since they were used to lay siege during battles.


It seemed a little bland by itself, so at the 11th hour (noticing a theme here), Zoe decided to build a paper castle that she could storm with the ping pong ball flinging catapult. You can see them both here. (Click to enlarge.) I have to say, I really love the scale of the catapult compared to the castle. This is truly a medieval warmongers dream (and, apparently, an 8th grader’s).

Zoe got a high mark for this project because her social studies teacher LOVED the catapult. Zoe had opted for a ping pong ball to be politically correct. But the teacher, who kept it for months, was wont to fling rocks and other heavy items across the room. And over time, people would add to it, stabilize it, put stiffer rubber bands on it…it really took on a life of its own!

Who knew?

The key to getting an A in social studies: construct working catapult.