Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seth Anderson's History Fair Project.

Seth on his mother's stool ready for the long awaited hair cut and bath.

Seth Anderson is a sixth grade student at Confederacy Elementary School in Cloverdale. History is his favorite subject. Last month Seth won the school’s history fair with honors. While other students did posters describing the accomplishments of great figures from the past, Seth decided to take a different approach.
“When people think of history they think of famous people,” Seth explained to a judge from the Ministry of Education and Employment. “But what about the average person? Most everybody is just average and we make history just by living.”

The idea for his history fair project came during a lecture his teacher gave on the lives of peasants during the Middle Ages. After school he had a serious talk with his parents.
“Mom, Dad. I want to live the life of a peasant boy during the Middle Ages for my history fair project. I want to eat like they ate, wash like they washed and work like they worked. I know its going to be tough but I want to try.”

Seth’s parents knew history well enough to know the life of a peasant wasn’t easy, but knowing their son’s passion for history and his stubborness, decided to support him. The following day Seth started his research. He took detailed notes and with is parents help, created a daily schedule. The day before embarking on his journey into the past ,his mother took him to the doctor for a complete physical with blood work. Seth realized the amount of effort this project would required and decided to make it his science fair project as well. He wanted to chronicle the effects of living like a peasant on his body. The physical was followed by his six month dental checkup. With facts in hand he was ready.

For two months he did his best to simulate the life of a peasant boy. He got up with the sun and when to bed when it went down. He gave up all electronic devices. He didn’t read because most peasants couldn’t. He worked around the house and spent time on his uncle’s farm outside Cloverdale. He worked hard when he wasn’t at school as a peasant boy would. His mother did her best to keep him on a peasant’s diet. He ate some meat but not much. Mostly he ate bread, vegetables and soups.

After a few days Seth began to smell. Peasants didn’t bath on a regular basis except for washing their face and hands with water but no soap - at least that’s what Seth’s teacher said. Seth’s smell grew worse as the week’s past. It was the first thing you noticed when walking into the Anderson home. At times it was so bad his mother made him eat in a different room. Seth didn’t brush his teeth or comb his hair either. Photographs of his unkempt appearance were taken along his historical journey. Seth wrote about each picture describing how it felt to be so dirty.
"It really isn't so bad," Seth said one day, "except for the rash and the itching."

There was one good thing Seth noticed about being unclean - the girls in his class kept their distance. Seth was considered the ‘cute’ boy in the class and had to deal with girl problems all the time. For the first time all year they left him alone. That made him happy. Of course, without Seth to admire the girls turned their attention to the other boys in the room. Soon, many of the other boys in the class started skipping their baths. If Seth could come to school dirty then so could they. The odor in the classroom became so rank the school nurse finally stepped in and order all the boys, except Seth, to shower, Seth was smart and got permission not to bathe before he started his project.

The day of the history fair was Seth’s last day as a peasant boy. His posters were prepared, examples of his meals were on paper plates and his medical and dental exam results were available for examination. Seth had lost weight but his muscle mass increased. His teeth were dirty but no cavities, which surprised everyone. He did develop a nasty rash which was treated promptly the next day. When asked by a judge what he will remember most about the experience, Seth answered, “I learned that life was hard for peasant children. I learned that we have it really nice today and we shouldn’t take all our technology for granted. I learned that peasant families were closer than families today because they talked a lot and played games because there wasn’t TV or video games. I learned to love the outside and nature. I think the peasants lived a good life most of the time.”

“What is the first thing you plan on doing when you get home tonight and can live like a normal boy,” a judge asked. Before Seth could answer his mother jumped in to respond.
“Seth will take a nice long bath. After that I’ll be waiting with the scissors. This mop on his head will be gone before bed!”
Seth smiled. His mother quickly reached down and covered his unsightly teeth with her hand.
“He will also brush his teeth.” She added.

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