Schenectady County

It’s mummies day at Rotterdam middle school

Nearly six months after Kim Coelho's sixth-grade history class treated a trio of Cornish game hens w
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Kim Coelho’s students found themselves on the hunt for mummies Friday.

Nearly six months after her sixth-grade history class treated a trio of Cornish game hens with the burial rites of an Egyptian Pharaoh, the young students found themselves digging up the fowl buried in the Draper Middle School courtyard.

And amazingly, they didn’t look much different than they did when the class first interred the birds. Once unwrapped, the birds appeared free of decay, though they had grown a bit darker and smelled distinctly of the spices the students had bathed them in.

“This is why the Egyptians did this, to preserve the bodies,” Coelho reminded her students after they exhumed the mummies on the last day of class.

Students spent parts of two months preparing the birds in the same manner Egyptians did more than four millennia ago. Coelho introduced the hands-on approach toward the subject to attract her class to a subject matter she previously taught from a textbook.

The class used a mixture of salt and baking soda to draw moisture from the birds and help limit any pungent aroma emanating from them. They also bathed the birds in oil and spices, much as the Egyptians had done.

Despite their research, many of the students doubted the experiment would work as it had in the age of pharaohs. Nick Esposito, 11, said he expected to find the mummies to be badly decayed, especially after the spate of sweltering weather the region experienced earlier this month.

“It didn’t really make sense to me,” he said of the experiment. “I didn’t think we’d dig them up and they’d be the same.”

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