By going on field trips to explore what our Swiss host community has to offer, our students' learning is enhanced and made relevant. As part of their current Unit of Inquiry "How we express ourselves",ICS Grade 3 students visited the NASCA. PERU – Searching for Traces in the Desert exhibition at Zurich's Rietberg Museum.
In the process of learning that "culture can be articulated through the arts", the students enjoyed the opportunity to view probably the most comprehensive exhibition on Nasca culture ever to be seen in Europe. In the Peruvian desert, the Nasca Lines are a series of enormous drawings in the sand in the southern Andes where the Nasca culture flourished from about 200 BC to 650 AD.
Geoglyph is a word used by archaeologists to refer to ancient ground drawings, low relief mounds, and other geometric earth and stone work found in isolated places throughout the world. The Museum Rietberg's current exhibit is an account of everyday life in the fertile valleys between the high ranges of the Andes in the east and the desert off the Pacific coast, emphasizing the famous geoglyphs that the Nasca people created. The Nasca left behind one of the world's greatest unsolved archaeological mysteries.
"I liked everything in the exhibit", one G3 student said, "especially the gold mask!" Another student, reflecting on the interpretations that archaeologists have given to the mysterious Nasca Lines commented, "...maybe if the ancient people in Peru heard us talking about why we think they made these (the Nasca Lines) they would probably laugh."
All the exhibits our G3s viewed, including artefacts from recent archaeological excavations, were brought to Zurich from Peruvian collections and museums. During the visit, the English-speaking tour guide asked the children to assemble a "puzzle" of parts modelled after one of the major pieces in the exhibit and to interpret some of the symbolic images. One G3 student was even fitted with a golden Nasca mask and the G3s lined up in front of an enormous screen which allowed them to 'fly over' the Peruvian landscape, getting a good virtual view of the Nasca Lines.
After they had seen the colourful pictorial language the Nasca used to decorate their ceramics in the exhibition, the second part of the visit took the students into the museum's art studio where they designed their own crayon scratch-image postcards similar to the symbolic drawings they had seen on the artefacts.
To conclude the unit of inquiry, the Grade 3s are now in the process of creating their own fused cultural expressions, combining aspects of dance, drama, music and the visual arts. They plan to share their collaborative creations with fellow students and teachers at the Primary assembly on Tuesday 30 January.