MAY 24, 2018 – What’s it like to play baseball when you’re blind? To answer that question, a junior at Gann Academy taught himself to animate, and created an audiovisual simulation of “beep baseball,” since beeping balls and buzzing bases communicate information to visually-impaired players.
This is just one of several innovative projects conceived and researched by Gann Academy students that will be on display starting June 8 at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham. Since November, 11th grade American history classes at Gann have been preparing a museum exhibition on the complicated history behind disability and inclusion in the United States. Eight months of engrossing discussion, debate, field trips, guest speakers, sleuthing, and self-guided animation lessons have culminated in “Division, Unity, Hardship, and Progress: A History of Disability in the United States,” the first student-created museum exhibition about the history of disability in America.
“Disability history is often an overlooked lens through which we can view American history,” said Alex Green, a scholar-in-residence at Gann who was one of many teachers of different backgrounds who helped guide students through the project. For Green, it was important that students share the many untold stories with the wider community.
“We came into it knowing that we wanted to do a project that would foster public dialogue that the students could continue to see and be part of,” he said.
Pairs of students were assigned either a historical artifact or an oral history interview. The students then spent months doing further research and deciding how to exhibit these primary sources in a respectful, informative, and engaging way. Designated class historians named the exhibit and worked to weave together the different strands of information into a cohesive whole.
Green stressed that while he and his colleagues were there to guide the students, he was amazed at how effectively they took ownership of this complex and multifaceted process. “This is all student-conceived,” he said. “There are so many things they did and mastered that I would have never thought of. This is theirs, man.”
The exhibition can be viewed starting June 8 at the Charles River Museum of Industry at 154 Moody Street in Waltham.