Who won the Battle of Ridgefield?
The seventh grade at Scotts Ridge may have found the answer to a question that has eluded historians for hundreds of years.
Who really won the Battle of Ridgefield? Was it the American patriots or the British troops?
After a day of learning about the battle and the Revolutionary War at the Keeler Tavern Museum, students were assigned a side — American or British — and had to create a project that argued the winner.
Parents were invited to the museum Feb. 22 to take a look at the completed work, and determined which depiction was more convincing.
In a narrow tally, parents voted 29 to 27 in favor of the patriots.
Hildi Grob, the museum’s executive director, said the students were divided into groups to learn different components throughout specific areas in the museum.
Docents and re-enactors talked about important Ridgefield figures like Sybil Ludington — the 16-year-old girl who warned the militias on horseback.
The students also analyzed documents the museum has from that time period.
They read newspaper articles from both British and Connecticut newspapers, noticing the different slants each source gave them.
Docents talked about the different types of wound care available to soldiers, and the rudimentary smallpox vaccine: rubbing a piece of string on a pus-filled wound, then applying the same string onto a healthy person’s open cut.
Seventh grade teacher Chris Petersen said that this type of learning encourages students to engage completely.
“You go there and you’re listening, and you’re seeing the cannonball on the wall,” he said.
“The kids were actually smelling, touching, and even feeling the medicine, and picking up maps that were actually used then.”
After visiting the museum, the students had to create a project that answered one main question: Who won the battle?
This is where they showed off their creativity with about 50 different projects.
From three-dimensional models to poems to a book series to websites — and even computer games — the seventh grade at Scotts Ridge delivered it all.
Parents were invited to the museum to take a look at the range of projects, including an area of 21 Chromebooks that were setup to display the created websites and games.
“We had food from The Village Tavern and we had wine,” said Petersen.
“It was a night out for the parents, it wasn’t your typical ‘Let’s go to the school and look at the projects and go home.’”
One group made a time capsule from a British soldier containing a bayonet, musket balls, a page ripped from a journal, a British flag, a cannonball, a piece of red coat, and a drawing.
After checking out all the projects, the parents voted.
Petersen said the response was overwhelmingly positive.
“Parents were awesome, I had tons of emails,” said the teacher. “I had people come and just say they were a little shocked.”
The museum is planning to put the projects on display for the general public the day of the Battle of Ridgefield re-enactment, Saturday, April 29.
The seventh graders will be spending another day at Keeler Tavern to learn about the civil war.
Eighth graders will be taking the trip to participate in the museum’s Gilded Age program.
“Sometimes people think that when you do these types of projects they don’t have the same rigor, but they actually have more,” Petersen said.
“This inquiry art really engages the students and it challenges them to come up with the answers themselves.”