Holli Hartman // The Post and Courier
Students at James B. Edwards Elementary School built scale models of historic buildings in downtown Charleston, including this replica of Rainbow Row.
Giving elementary school kids sharp knives usually is a bad idea.
But 67 fourth- and fifth-graders at James B. Edwards Elementary in Mount Pleasant were able to wield these adult tools -- along with hot-glue guns, wire strippers and vigilant adult supervision -- to create seven historic downtown landmarks on a smaller scale.
The students, part of the Student Assistance in Learning Program for gifted and talented children, created one-quarter-inch-scale models of the Pink House, the Powder Magazine, Rainbow Row, the Heyward-Washington House, 14 George St., Hibernian Hall and the Huguenot Church.
The 67 models were intricate, from the bricks on the Heyward-Washington House, to the many windows and shutters on 14 George, to the flowers behind the Pink House and the buttresses, finials and crenellation on the Huguenot Church.
Hibernian Hall had ionic columns and a small gold harp above the entrance. At the end of their presentation Thursday, the students lit up their buildings using the parallel circuits they had created.
The students had been working on the project since October. They took a downtown tour in the fall during which they measured the buildings with a 4-foot PVC pipe and converted every 4 feet into one inch for the models. They also wrote research papers on their buildings.
The project's purpose was to study in depth the five earliest styles of architecture in Charleston, which were represented by the different buildings. The students used history, science, research, math, composition and presentation skills in the project, said Jenny Hane, the students' SAIL instructor.
"The point of SAIL is to give kids a diversified curriculum that's on a higher level and involves problem-solving," Hane said. "It's the way we learn in real life -- we study a subject and we immerse ourselves in it. And the whole idea is to create a product out of that study."
While the students all said they enjoyed the project, many said the hard work convinced them that they didn't want to become architects or electricians in the future.
"The hardest part was probably the electricity because we had to strip the wires and connect them with the electric tape," said fifth-grader Christina Lee, who is 11.
The long time it took to create the models didn't curb fourth-grader Ben Bell's destructive urge. Bell described his idea of filling his Powder Magazine model with actual gunpowder and igniting it with a flamethrower to accomplish what Gen. W.T. Sherman never did. Or, Bell said, a grenade under the roof would suffice.
"Boom!" the 10-year-old said with corresponding hand gestures.
The students' models of 14 George St., the Spoleto Office, will be on display at 14 George St. after May 31.