FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With the strange facts and odd pictures, more than likely if you ask any kid in elementary school what their favorite book is, they will tell you “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” or “Guinness Book of World Records.” They are a staple in schools around the nation, and it is no surprise that a local elementary school went beyond reading the books.
Kelly Mill Elementary School in Forsyth County recently decided to recreate what they saw in these books, and came up with the idea to make a Ripley’s museum of their own.
Eileen Kuhn is a fourth-grade teacher at KME. She originally came up with the idea after thinking about how she could incorporate things her students love with a measurement theme.
“The ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ and the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ books are the books that get torn apart the fastest. They’re the ones they fight over and hide in their desk because they don’t want anybody else to get them because they love them so much,” Kuhn said. “I went off of that idea thinking they loved learning about the interesting facts and even more so, some of the gross ones. Just something that’s different. I went with that idea and said let’s tie in cross-curricular areas to this one project.”
Kuhn pitched the idea to all of the fourth-grade teachers, but only one other teacher, Pam Fulkerson, decided to take on the task. Many decided not to get involved because their students would simultaneously be working on an African-themed project and Ripley’s.
After Kuhn and Fulkerson told their students the project basis, they went to work. The project wasn’t focused on one type of element.
“It was really a math report, a writing report, a listening and speaking report and researching. We were trying to tie in everything,” Kuhn said. “I thought because the Ripley’s thing had such a high interest in the classroom that they would really go for it, and they did. They loved it.”
KME is a BYOT school, meaning that they encourage students to “bring your own technology” to school. This project allowed the students to go back to the basics of being a kid and get artsy.
“They’ve been using technology quite a bit throughout the year and it was interesting to see with this particular project what they’d do when I gave them the option to do whatever they wanted,” Kuhn said. “Out of our kids, only two chose to do technology-based projects because they’ve been working with technology all year. It was fun for them do something more artsy.”
After the projects were complete, KME set out to get recognition. They tweeted to Ripley’s, which liked their idea and eventually came to visit the school’s museum.
As a thank you for their hard work, Ripley’s donated a book for each student who worked on the project, along with a collection of other Ripley’s books for the library. They also gave free lifetime membership passes to any Ripley’s museum for the teachers who worked with the kids.
“I am very surprised that it turned out as well as it did, but I think that if we were given more time it could be even better; but I am definitely satisfied with the way that it turned out this year,” Kuhn said.