So apparently my school is getting 2 new 3D Printers. For some reason I was asked to help select these printers and we decided on the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 3D. This model got rave reviews in PC World and the EDU version comes with 30 lesson plans and a 4 hour Professional Development course. Since no one in our building has experience with 3D printers this seemed like a good deal.

Dremel DigiLab 3D45

For years I have had an idea for a Monument and Memorial Investigation and Creation Project. As a resident of South Carolina I am often stunned by the various monuments and memorials that can be found throughout the state. With the Confederate Monument controversies engulfing the nation recently the whole country is now getting a sense what many have been privately thinking for quite some time. Last year I wrote about this after a Red for Ed march at our state capital. Monuments and Memorials capture a moment in time and can tell us a great deal; not just about the people that are memorialized but also the people that chose to create the monument. In this project that I am intending to propose I would like to provide an overview of the people or ideas memorialized, the context of the monument creation including the people that created it, and then allow students to propose their own monuments and memorials. The 3D printer would be used to create a miniature version of the proposed monument. Then we can actually put our active citizenship skills to work and propose the monument to the local or state government. In doing so we would need to develop a plan of action that includes a budget, locations, and materials. I am really excited and more than a little overwhelmed by this idea!

Read existing Public History work on Monuments and Memorials

Visual Essay: Holocaust Memorials and Monuments

Analyzing Existing Monuments and Memorials

Choose a state or local monument to examine. Students may wish to examine the Monuments outside of the South Carolina State House using the Historic Columbia Virtual Tour. Another interesting example is the Bench by the Road Memorial project. Students are not limited to these monuments and memorials. Students should then:

  1. Explain why they chose to examine that monument
  2. Provide a historic overview of the person, people, or event that is being memorialized.
  3. Consider the story of the monument or memorial. What narrative did the creator attempt to create? What is left out of the story? Is there any misleading or incorrect information depicted? If so, why might that be the case?
  4. Provide a Context for the time period depicted in the monument. For example, if you are examining the Washington Memorial, what important historical events were happening while Washington was President.
  5. Provide a Context for the era in which the monument or memorial was created. For example, the Silent Sam monument at the University of North Carolina memorializes students from the college that served for the Confederacy in the Civil War but was not created until 1913 (50 years after the Civil War). I would like to know about 1913.
  6. Who was the intended audience of the monument or memorial? How might that have influenced the structure?
  7. Why do you think this monument or memorial was created?
  8. What story do you think the people that commissioned the monument were attempting to tell us with the monument?
  9. What materials are used to create the monument? How might this be part of the message?
  10. What symbols are used on the monument? How might this be part of the message?
  11. What words or phrases appear on the monument? How might this be part of the message?
  12. Are there any other unique or interesting elements to the monument? What are they and what message are they attempting to convey?

Research an event or person that should be memorialized

What person or event do you think should be memorialized? Why is this significant enough to dedicate time and money to?

What sources have you found to support your interpretation of the event or life?

What audience would you be creating the memorial or monument for?

Design and Create the Monument/Memorial

What is the story that you would like your monument or memorial to tell?

What symbols and images will you use to create this narrative? Do these symbols have any connection to the historic person, people, or event that you are depicting?

What specific materials should this monument be made out of? What do the materials symbolize? For example, many 9/11 memorials are build out of steel in remembrance of the steel girders bent by the collapse.

Will you include any words on the monument or memorial? What are they and why should they be included? How do these words help to convey the story you are attempting to tell?

Where do you intend your monument to be located? What is the symbolic meaning behind this placement? For example, an escaped slave memorial might have a more powerful meaning if it were placed next to a Confederate monument instead of next to an existing Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

Create a Model of the Monument/Memorial

This is the area I am not too sure about. I have no experience with 3D Printing but I would like students to create a model of their proposed monuments and memorials.

Propose and Defend your creation

Write to your local or state representatives about your proposed monument or memorial. If you think a different entity should also be included contact them as well. For example, a project about a local Civil Rights figure might benefit from communicating with the local branch of the NAACP.

This is another area that will need to be cleaned up.

Reflecting on this Writing

This is obviously an extremely early draft and is certainly more of a mission statement than lesson plan. I would love to have anyone that has read this far give me some feedback in the comments to make this better.

As I try to learn more about Monuments and the process of Public History I ran into an article that ends with this quote which is how I will end this post:

Above all, we must remember that monuments and memorials are neither silent nor innocent. The harder we think about their meanings today, the more likely they are to speak with clarity tomorrow.