Teacher transforms her classroom into a museum with student-made lighthouse models beaconing interest in the famous N.C. lighthouses

By Christie Barlow
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Typically North Carolina’s lighthouse can only be seen from the coast, but several of the states more famous lighthouse made an appearance at Carolina International School last week.

Brenda Mauldin, a fourth grade teacher at the school, transformed her classroom into a lighthouse museum, with student-made lighthouse models on display. Students were assigned a lighthouse and required to do research and construct a model of the actual lighthouse.

On the day of the Lighthouse Museum, parents, classmates and faculty visited the classroom for an impromptu history lesson. Students were on hand to tell visitors about their lighthouse and answer any questions they had.

Students participated in the assignment as part of their study on the coastal plains of North Carolina.

Mauldin originally started the Lighthouse Museum a few years ago as a way to peak students’ interest in North Carolina history. Lighthouses had an impact on trade and developing economic growth and is an important subject to cover with students, Mauldin said.

“Our coast is known as the graveyard of the Atlantic,” Mauldin said. “The lighthouse played an important part in keeping the coastal plains safe for ships.”

In order to understand the state’s history, they need to know about lighthouses, she said.

Mauldin said that students showed a lot of interest in learning about North Carolina history and the importance of lighthouses. Although she wasn’t surprised by the amount of interest in the assignment, she was surprised by how much effort her students put into their research and designs.

“When it’s something hands on, the kids usually get into it, but I’ve never had a class do this well before,” Mauldin said. “It’s been awesome.”

Designs ranged from massive models two or three feet tall, to detailed models with real working rotating lights.

Cameron Greene built his model of the Cape Lookout lighthouse out of paper mache and chicken wire. During the assignment, Greene said he was surprised to find that there are so many lighthouses in North Carolina.

“They’re cool because of their shape and what they do,” Greene said. “If I were to become a sailor, now I’d know what to look for.”

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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