by Ryder Beeler
Touchdown! On February 18, 2021, the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars as millions of people watched the event all around the world. As I watched the landing, I was reminded of the time when I was seven years old. A friend of my parents, Ms. Jules Lee, worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a navigational engineer and she invited us to JPL for a visit and private tour. We saw the premises and even visited Mission Control, as well as what is known as the Clean Room. Engineers dressed in full body protective suits, caps, shoe coverings, gloves, and face masks that prevent even the smallest piece of dust or hair ruining sensitive instruments were working on a $2 billion spacecraft named Perseverance, which was set to launch some time in the next decade. And here we are: Perseverance got launched, successfully landed, and is already exploring Mars!
The Perseverance expedition has been widely covered in the news, but there are some aspects about Perseverance and Ingenuity that the public may not know about. I was honored to reconnect with our family’s friend, Jules Lee, who is one of the navigational engineers at JPL in Pasadena. I interviewed her and am very happy to be able to share some information with regards to the mission.
The main purpose of the mission is to see if there have been living organisms on the planet in the past or if they still exist in the present. Perseverance was stationed at Jezero Crater since it used to be a lake filled with water, which is required for life. It will take samples of the rocks in the ground, which will be stored in the rover until brought back to Earth. Once back, the samples will be tested for any water or remains of previously living organisms. Ingenuity will then be flying around the area surrounding the rover doing weather reports. Ingenuity is in its operations demo phase and is the first helicopter on Mars. Here is some further information from NASA on Ingenuity: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/6-things-to-know-about-nasas-ingenuity-mars-helicopter
As you now know, Perseverance and Ingenuity are the two main components of a rover program that were sent to Mars. However, did you know how Perseverance is linked to the next major mission or that the whole mission itself is much older than you think? Mrs. Lee stated that the Perseverance will play a major role in NASA’s next mission. The mission, which is not yet named, will be responsible for bringing the samples that Perseverance is currently collecting back to Earth. These samples will be used to determine if there was, or better yet now is, life on Mars. Perseverance didn’t just start in 2015 when it began to be built. The simple idea for the Perseverance was developed around the late 1990’s – early 2000’s. Approximately 15 years later, it had gained full attention from NASA and the build commenced. A little after that, the route for Perseverance was plotted, the spot of landing was chosen, and after the physical completion, multiple checks took place to ensure that the rover was in perfect condition.
In addition to some of the better known details, there are also some that do not receive as much coverage in the news: for instance, the fact that the United States wasn’t the only country involved in Perseverance. The mission was not just funded by and constructed solely here. Other space programs have contributed financial and material resources to the program where NASA / JPL would trade items and materials with space programs abroad, like Centro de Astrobiologia Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial in Spain and Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt in Norway. Secondly, communication between Earth and the rover sometimes faces serious challenges. Signals can be intercepted by a piece of space debris or a space rock. And this is particularly stressful for all the engineers at Mission Control during what is called “the seven minutes of terror,” which refers to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phase of the rover. This is such an anxious time because events take place much quicker than the radio signals can reach Earth from Mars for communication. Rovers communicate with Earth directly, but with Perseverance, communication did not get turned on for a month or so, until all of its diagnostics and checkouts were done. The Mars orbiters, Odyssey, MRO and MAVEN, helped out relaying telemetry engineering data in near real time during Perseverance’s EDL on February 18th. For further information on NASA’s Mars Program, check out their website: https://mars.nasa.gov/#mars_exploration_program/1
When I think back to the day that I visited JPL Mission Control and witnessed the engineers’ work on NASA’s next project, I had no idea that this would be the Perseverance as we know it now. Perseverance is currently exploring a planet 190.09 million miles from Earth. We can expect the next mission to launch within a decade. How exciting it will be to witness another interplanetary touchdown!Read More
by Emily Corona
The Science Academy has some excellent clubs focused on culture to offer the student body, all aiming to create a welcoming and educational environment. The clubs themselves are open to everyone from all backgrounds and are all outstanding learning opportunities. The clubs serve to provide a space to empower students of different cultures, all the while unifying the rest of the student body. Students have the opportunity to attend three different cultural clubs: the LatinX Student Union, the Jewish and Israeli Club, and the Christian Club. Each club offers a helpful insight into their respective cultures with their affable leaders and community members. Students are encouraged to visit these clubs and explore the unique cultures of their peers.
The LatinX Student Union, headed by 11th graders Chloe Montalban, Yedid Vargas, and Natalie Mendez, aims to empower and unite the LatinX community here at the Science Academy. The club is open to all students and is an enriching opportunity to learn about multiple aspects of LatinX culture, which includes the cultures of Mexico, Latin America, South America and Spain, as well as the experiences of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. One such meeting focused on the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. An educational presentation about the holiday was presented to club members, detailing traditions like sugar skull painting and the cultural significance of celebrating the dead. Not only that, but the club also spreads awareness regarding issues the community itself faces in contemporary times. The club itself meets weekly and is sponsored by Ms. Huyler.
The Jewish and Israeli Club is another one of Science Academy’s cultural clubs, teaching the history of Israel and neighboring Arab countries. The club also explores Jewish culture, examining important religious works such as the Torah and the Christian New Testament. Club President Jaden Penhaskashi, an 11th grader and the current Science Academy Student Body President, leads the club in a multitude of different discussions alongside club vice president Gregory Kislik. Founded three years ago, the club was intended to educate the student body on the many similarities and differences between Judaism and various other cultures. Many members of the club aren’t Jewish themselves according to Jaden, as he explained:
“I love the fact that there are so many people in our club who do not identify as Jewish or Israeli, and are simply there to learn and understand another perspective!”
The most recent meeting featured a presentation on the Capitol riots and the role antisemitism played in them, as well as a lesson on the current parliamentary system in Israel. The club meets twice a month, with Ms. Herrera serving as club sponsor, and alternates meetings with the Christian Club.
The Christian Club is represented by Jacob Chow and Melissa Mouchamel. It, too, welcomes students of all faith backgrounds as a venue for sharing perspectives. It provides a safe place to learn about and discuss Christianity through life experiences and study of the Bible, as well as learn about the life and teachings of Jesus. As Jacob and Melissa stated:
“In Christian Club, we aim to be a place where people, both Christian and non-Christian, can learn about and discuss Christianity, Bible stories and lessons, as well as life in general. We work hard to stay open to different viewpoints and interact with our members. Being online has been a challenge, but we tried our best to involve everyone in our meetings and are looking forward to meeting in person next year. This year, we have talked about the stories, misconceptions, and values of Christianity. Having the opportunity to share the principles that are so important in our lives and learn about diverse opinions is the reason why we wanted to lead this club together.”
These cultural clubs are incredible opportunities for all members of the student body to learn about the various different cultures of those on campus. They serve to empower those of their respective culture, all the while providing a welcoming learning environment for others to educate themselves. The Jewish Club presents unique opportunities to learn about both Judaism as a religion and Israeli culture. The LatinX Student Union provides in-depth discussions regarding Latino culture and tradition, as well as insight into issues faced by the Latino and Latina population. The Christian Club provides a forum for exploring the many denominations of Christianity and its rich history. Joining these clubs allows students to learn more about the numerous cultures celebrated throughout the Science Academy student body. The Schoology group join codes can be found in the Club Resources folder in the Student Outreach group.Read More
By Scott Oberholtzer, Sarah Lane, and Emily Corona
As the year comes to a close once more, we look again to the future to see what is next. The 2020-2021 Science Academy Associated Student Body, though it has made great changes to the school environment, including club sign-ups and adding new events, still has wishes they hope can be addressed by next year’s ASB members.
School president, Jaden Penhauskashi, when asked about what he hopes to see changed in the school, shared this:
“My hope is that next year, it will be much easier to run both spirit events and fundraisers, and that being in person will facilitate much greater participation. I would say that I look the most forward to having certain things we previously took for granted like Mr. Lauchu as Santa Claus or even watching a mock Science Bowl competition! I am confident that no matter the challenges ASB faces next year as our school reverts to in-person, they will rise to the occasion and make the school greater than it ever has been.”
The ASB as a whole is excitedly anticipating the coming fall school year when we can get back to in-person fundraisers and events, and possibly rekindle some former school-wide hits, like the Teachers v. Students Science Bowl and the Pi Day Festivities. Jaden expresses the desire of all members of the ASB and the student body when he explains his wishes to regain some sense of normalcy for school events.
Rachel Lee, ASB secretary, responded that:
“The one thing I would say is having more participation from our grade representatives. There are a few students that give a lot of input, but it would be nice to hear what everyone has to say. I think part of it is to find ways to make it less intimidating for them to share their ideas and hopefully when we go back to school, it would be easier for the ASB officers to communicate with the grade reps!”
Encouraging participation from grade representatives allows for the general student body to better communicate with ASB members, and Rachel highlights this in her statement. Hopefully, with the coming year, representatives will have a larger presence in the ASB while in in-person club meetings. In-person meetings could lessen the intimidation reps seem to face, as described by Rachel, in the virtual meetings.
Vice President Thomas Kim, when discussing upcoming shifts in the student body, mentions that:
“Better communication and leadership skills for both ASB officers and representatives is something that I hope will change for next year’s ASB. Additionally, ASB has to become more independent and more smoothly run by the officers and the representatives; we need to make everything much more elegant and timed, rather than choppy. Lastly, we as ASB need to find a way to make our activities and works more spread across the school, building the school’s culture, and most importantly, a community.”
Thomas’ focus as Vice President largely revolves around club management and creation, a job that requires constant communication with officers, especially the President. As such, he is the first to know when communication is a difficulty, and when intervention needs to be made. Communication issues will hopefully be a topic of resolution for next year’s cabinet, allowing for a smoother and more efficient overall Student Body.
Overall, it appears that the upcoming ASB will have big shoes to fill, as they have many different topics and issues to address within the 2021-2022 cycle of the Student Body. Make sure to vote in all upcoming elections, readers, as you can help to make the right choice for The Science Academy STEM Magnet’s future!Read More
by Sarah Lane & Scott Oberholtzer
The Science Academy High School speech and debate team has just closed out a very successful first year of competition. The team as a whole prospered in every competition, consistently placing at or near the top, with one student making it all the way to the state competition.
The team engaged in its first novice competition on Halloween, with Sarah Lane, Leila Muney, and Mary Sarukhanyan all placing within the Top 5 for Spontaneous Argumentation, as well as Gregory Kislik placing in 5th for Original Oratorical Speaking. The team was congratulated by the League President, Bobby Lebeda, for their high placements in their first competition.
The second speech competition for the year, and the first advanced speech competition for the team, came on November 19, 2020. Sarah Lane, Nicholas Carone, and Cristiana Phelan all placed within the top 10 in Spontaneous Argumentation. In addition to this, Sarah Lane also placed fourth in Impromptu Speaking.
On January 16, 2021, the team conquered its first-ever debate competition. Multiple students competed in a myriad of team and individual events. Gregory Kislik competed in the Lincoln Douglas debate and earned a superior award, while Leila Muney and Cristiana Phelan competed in the Public Forum debate, also earning a superior award. Parliamentary debate had the most entries from the team, with two teams: Rhonen Harris and Sarah Lane, as well as Nicholas Carone and Leila Muney. Both Parliamentary entries earned superior awards at the open debate competition.
In the spring open speech competition on February 20, 2021, the team had an impressive showing in the Spar and Impromptu events yet again, with Leila Muney, Rhonen Harris, and Xander Ashtrafi all placing within the top 10. Rhonen Harris also placed 6th in the impromptu speaking event at the competition.
The team then entered into the debate state qualifiers, on February 27th. At these qualifiers, Mary Sarukhanyan and Leila Muney made it all the way to the finals in Public Forum debate. The team eventually placed 7th in the event.
The next state qualifying event was for speech on March 19th, 2021. Many competitors from the team went to compete against some of the best speakers in the state, with two students from the Science Academy Team placing in finals. Michelle Dupont placed 7th, just short of qualifying for states in the program Oral Interpretation event, while Sarah Lane placed 6th and qualified for the state competition in Impromptu Speaking.
The CA state competition took place over multiple days, from April 19th to the 25th. Sarah Lane ended up competing over three separate days in Impromptu speaking, eventually making it to the semi-finals for the event. Sarah placed 13th overall out of 50+ state competitors.
Team coach Mr. Brooker, club President Mary Sarukhanyan, and the entire team are extremely proud of their stellar performance this pioneering season. With Mary stating, “I’m astonished at how far our team has come, especially since it was all done through a screen. Mr. Brooker and our team members worked really hard to get here”. Both Mr. Brooker and the team hope to return next year even more successful than the last, sending more competitors to state in both Speech and Debate events.
The team has also expressed a desire for new members, as stated by Mr. Brooker. The team is open to all high schoolers, including current 8th graders who will be starting 9th grade with the Science Academy next year. If you’re interested, please reach out to Mr. Brooker via Schoology message. Hope you will consider joining us!Read More
By Ava-Ray P.
The Science Academy hosted guest speaker Kenny D. from Tree People to talk about composting at home for our February 19th STEM Talk. There was great interest in the subject amongst the student body because of the ways composting can not only help create rich soil, but can be used to recycle food scraps and yard waste, thereby reducing landfill usage and the creation of greenhouse gases. Below is a summary on the topics covered during the STEM Talk as well as where you can get materials to start composting yourself.
First of all, what is composting? Composting is a mixture of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves or food waste, used for enriching soil. We can use composting to recycle food waste, which lessens its impact in landfills, and use it to fertilize plants to help them grow. With the right supplies and methods, you can create compost at home.
Creating compost is fairly simple. To start, you will need both “browns” and “greens”. Browns are materials like dried leaves, twigs, paper bags, torn newspaper, etc. They are the non- perishables. Greens are perishables like fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, etc. With a 50/50 combination of these materials, you can start composting!
You should also have the tools to start composting. The LADWP offers composting bins for you to start composting, (link) and you can get other supplies at most nurseries (link to local nursery). When you start to compost, you should layer the materials on top of each other. Starting with a first layer of twigs, and alternating layers of brown and green layers.
Composting can be surprisingly beneficial. It diverts waste away from landfills, and it adds microbes and nutrients to soil. Organic matter in landfills breaks into methane, a greenhouse gas. Sadly, 40% of the food we buy is wasted, with most of that going into landfills. If we use composting more and more, we can start to move our economy to a circular system, where we can make products, use them, and recycle/compost them to be used again.
STEM Clubs at the Science Academy STEM Magnet
by Milan R. and Muaz R.
At Science Academy, we have a wide range of clubs, all focusing on a variety of subjects, skills, and potential occupations. In this article, we take a look at three of our STEM-focused clubs: StellarXplorers, the Applied STEAM Club, and Math Counts. Stellar Xplorers and Math Counts are sponsored by our wonderful assistant principal, Mr. Rosenthal, while the Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield and led by fellow students Zygmunt R, Nikita A, and Oliver P. All of these clubs feature the use of many different skills in science, technology, engineering, math, and more.
Stellar Xplorers is a high school space-based competition, founded by the National Air Force Association (AFA), that encourages students to use their skills in mathematics, science, and engineering in order to solve real-life problems. Students must grapple through many different computer-generated scenarios, while keeping in mind all the variables that could affect their aircraft, such as launch speed and orbital velocity. Working and familiarizing themselves with these concepts allows pupils to gain a greater advantage when applying these skills to real-life jobs in major organizations and companies such as NASA, JPL, and SpaceX.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s like participating in the club, we interviewed Zachary M. (8th) on his experiences.
“I first started Stellar Xplorers in the sixth grade. It’s been a great experience so far — Stellar Xplorers has taught me about the different elements of satellite design, weighing the cost-effectiveness of different crucial satellite subsystems, the six classical orbital parameters, and evaluating the data transfer from satellites to satellites and stations, and much more. I would recommend anyone who likes space and is willing to join a team to become a Stellar Xplorer. A lot of Stellar Xplorers is not only about participating in the competitions but also having a good time with your friends. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve done this year and it always gives me something to look forward to. Also, scholarships are given to the top three teams, so that gives an incentive as well. Although you probably couldn’t use the material you learn directly after you participate in a competition when you get older, these competitions can give you some of the necessary knowledge and experience required to be able to work at companies like JPL, NASA, or SpaceX. In my opinion, there is absolutely no prior experience necessary to join this club. I came in knowing nothing about any of the topics I listed prior, but after participating in the competitions and learning about satellites and rockets through this club, I would now consider myself knowledgeable on all of them.”
StellarXplorers explores a wide variety of different topics in STEM fields and allows students to exercise skills that they can apply to real-world careers. If you would like to develop these skills for a present and future occupation, or simply have an interest in what lies beyond the great skies, consider joining Stellar Xplorers! You can do so by emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club.
Are you deeply interesting and curious about the mysteries of mathematics and the beauty it encompasses? Or are you simply looking for a way to stretch your brain and increase your critical thinking skills? Math Counts features a solution to both of these problems! Hosted by Mr. Rosenthal, the club grants a way for students to converse and solve math problems with one another as well as increase their logical and critical thinking skills at the same time. Math Counts tackles problems in many different fields of mathematics, including algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s truly like in the club, we interviewed two club members:
Saket P. (8th): “I first started Math Counts in 6th grade when it was a small group of 6, and we just did math problems and math competitions. We entered competitions like the AMC 8, 10, 12, the Math Olympiad, and the Math Counts and Purple Comet. I would recommend anyone who likes competitive math to come to join, or if you like fun math problems. Most of the stuff you learn can help you gain an advantage in the competition and can help us beat rival schools. I don’t believe there is a need for prior knowledge, you just need to be interested in math. But if you want a list of subjects to prepare for the competition, there are algebra, geometry, number theory, and probability. Math Counts is an amazing club for anyone interested in math. I am excited to see how this club ends up in the years to come.”
Ryan L. (7th): “I first started Math Club just when it was announced by Mr. Rosenthal. The club is a great way to practice skills that you have already learned as well as develop new ones. It’s a great opportunity to have fun with math, and I was able to incorporate the math questions I have answered there with various problems on the AMC and Math Counts. I believe that some prior knowledge is needed, at least algebra. The club is there to learn and practice math. The people who already know the math are able to practice the problems, and more importantly explain how to do the problem to the other students, allowing the other students to learn and allowing all the students to gain more experience in articulating the process and solution.”
Math Counts provides an environment for students to engage in different mathematical challenges and problems with one another in order to expand upon their logical and critical thinking skills. If these activities sound enjoyable to you, consider emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club!
Are you interested in MakerSpace, electronics and/or engineering? If so, you should know the Applied STEAM Club has been devoted to a combination of these topics since they formed in January 2021.
The Applied STEAM Club aspires to be a “community of STEM enthusiasts to showcase cool projects and ideas.” Together, members of the club collaborate on projects and work on them to perfection. Other than collaborating, students “communicate with each other in the STEAM club whether it be through Zoom or Discord”. Their Zoom meetings are every Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
One of their major goals is to “acquire more members in order to make bigger projects and have better collaborations”. The club representatives are also hopeful the club can meet in person when school returns to normal, and therefore make collaborating easier.
The Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield with Zyg R, Oliver P, and Nikita A as their representatives. To enter the club, students can use the access code from the S.A. Student Body Outreach to join their Schoology group, and they can attend their meetings.Read More
Happy Earth Day!
It can be quite distressing to view the impact humans have had on Earth. There is no need to spell it out: we all know the negative effects of human industrialization on our home planet, ranging from global warming to pollution to wildlife extinction. However, our Mother Earth is caring. She has taken care of us for thousands upon thousands of generations. Now it is our turn to restore and reverse the negative effects that we have caused, one step at a time.
The first observance of Earth Day was during April 1970, when a junior senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson took advantage of the growing awareness of human effects on the environment. Although it is hard to believe now, laws that prevent certain harmful effects on the environment such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were not yet in place during that time, which meant that pollution was much greater. General awareness grew when environmental leaders such as Rachel Carson began to delve into the harmful effects of human industrialization on the environment, in addition to major environmental disasters due to human error such as the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, which was estimated to kill a staggering 3,500 sea birds, as well as many groups of sea animals. Sen. Nelson, with help from Congressmen Pete McCloskey and young activist Denis Hayes launched the first Earth Day in American history. Over 20 million Americans, 10% of the entire population of the United States at that time, joined together in protests and rallies to fight for a cleaner, healthier environment.
Today, more than a billion people worldwide celebrate Earth Day as a way to grow and spread awareness about our environment and the effects we have on it. Earth Day is also about appreciating the beauty of nature and the world around us, and figuring how we may be able to reverse the negative effects of our own actions on the environment. Please enjoy and cherish the great wonders the natural world has to offer. Happy Earth Day!
You can learn more about the history of Earth Day at this link: The History of Earth DayRead More
by Hayley Yoon
The Science Academy offers a wide range of clubs. Clubs can be described as one of the highlights of school, especially during this time of distance learning, which is why students are encouraged to participate in them. They can be centered around a variety of subjects, including those that match up with students’ passions. By joining a club that you are passionate about, you can learn more about the topic, meet people who share your interests, and gain various experiences, including serving the community. For students interested in the medical field, the Science Academy has two clubs to offer: the Red Cross Club and the Pre-Med/Future Doctors of America Club.
Red Cross Club
The Red Cross Club is designed to provide students with various information on understanding and preparing for natural disasters, along with opportunities to take action as a volunteer. Students who participate in these activities learn more about the world of emergency assistance and develop strong leadership skills that can be applied in all situations.
Most students will be familiar with American Red Cross as a large, public organization, but many may not know about the programs available to them. This club was established to inform other Science Academy students about these opportunities, and allow them to gain valuable volunteering experiences from them. Students who would like to study in the medical field would benefit greatly from this club by gaining a variety of experiences while following their interests.
Members of the Red Cross Club take part in a list of activities, from learning about Red Cross’ efforts to alleviate human suffering all the way to First Aid and CPR training. Information about all types of services including services toward Armed Forces, training services, blood donor services, disaster services, and international services. They also attend meetings held by the Glendale Youth Corps, allowing the students to speak comfortably with peers while earning volunteer hours. The club also hosts events like fundraisers and donation drives to aid in humanitarian issues. Last year, the club hosted a Veteran’s Wishlist Drive, earning many donations that were gifted to Los Angeles area veterans.
High school students may be looking for volunteer opportunities among the clubs, which the Red Cross Club provides. All activities affiliated with Red Cross allow students to gain volunteer hours, and club members are also invited to participate in events held by other youth corps, especially in the Glendale area. Although the pandemic prevents students from volunteering in person, this club allows students to take advantage of online volunteer events such as educational courses, fundraisers, and drives.
Pre-Med/Future Doctors of
The Pre-Med/Future Doctors of America Club is another Science Academy club students may be interested in. Joining this club would allow students to be educated on current events and opportunities regarding the medical field.
This club was created for students who had a passion or interest in the medical field, or students who simply were curious and wanted to learn more about it. The founder of the Pre-Med club believed it was important for students to be able to pursue their interests at school, and opened up this club as a path for students like herself.
In the Pre-Med Club, students learn about current issues and topics in the world of medicine, such as the effects and implications of COVID-19 on healthcare. This club has a variety of activities and plans, including plans to invite guest speakers including medical students or doctors, debates regarding medical controversies, and remote volunteering opportunity information. When asked how remote learning had affected the club, the club representative replied that the effect was actually positive. Before, large numbers of students had to gather in a single classroom to watch the powerpoint presentations, which was a difficult task and process. However, thanks to online Zoom meetings, presenting slides and setting up meetings has become easier.
Volunteering opportunities have become difficult to find due to the virus. The Pre-Med Club is looking into remote volunteering opportunities related to the medical field so that students can earn service hours as well as experience what kind of work is related to the area of study.
To join either or both the Red Cross Club and the Pre-Med/Future Doctors of America Club, visit the Science Academy Clubs website (available in the S.A Student Body Outreach Schoology group) and join the Schoology group of the club according to the code provided. The meeting dates and time for both clubs can be found on this website as well.
by Ava-Ray Pributsky
You may think that most of Ancient Egypt has already been discovered and that there is not much new to find. However, that is not the case. Even as recently as the last couple of years, there have been multiple discoveries of vast new burial sites in the region of Saqqara, located in Giza Governorate, Egypt. In November of 2020, archeologists found over 100 wooden sarcophagi, some of them with mummies inside, and over 40 funerary statues. These artifacts were from 2,500 years ago and “in perfect condition of preservation” according to Khaled el-Enany, the Egyptian Minister of tourism and antiquities. Even more recently, in January of 2021, archeologists found 50 more tombs in Saqqara. To share this discovery with the public, Harvard University has created a special virtual tour of one of the excavated tombs.
Archeologists Examining Artifacts at Saqqara
(Link to Tour)
This year, the 6th grade Ancient Civilizations history class at Science Academy has been learning about Ancient Egypt. We first studied the geography of Egypt, how the Nile helped the Egyptian people, culture, and their civilization flourish and survive, as well as how the Nile Valley protected Egyptian civilization from outside forces. Then, we started to learn about the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom, briefly touching upon the Early Dynastic Period. We also learned about the pharaohs who ruled during those periods. Most pharaohs had elaborate, mysterious, and mesmerizing stories behind them, parts of which are still missing and lost in history. We also looked at the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the Great Pyramids of Giza, Hatshepsut’s Temple, and many other important monuments and tombs that were built during the time of Khufu and various other pharaohs. In addition, we delved deeply into the Egyptian pantheon of gods and their rich culture, as well as some of the Egyptians’ advances in mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. Finally, we covered the New Kingdom and its rulers, as well as the sad end to the civilization that was the prime trading center for centuries and the home to one of most beautiful civilizations for over 3,000 years.
As a final project, our class was asked to give an opportunity to work on an Extra Credit project where we wrote an original piece about Egyptian culture as well as an original art piece inspired by Egyptian culture. Here is a gallery of some of the students’ wonderful work.
Hymn to the Nile
by Muaz Reza
All hail to the Nile, the greatest river there is.
Who submerges thyself among the barren lands of Egypt.
Bringing growth to places visibly uninhabitable
Allowing life to sprout and thrive with great joy.
As your water calmly floods our dry lands
It brings pleasure to even the heaviest of frowns
Not a single heart grim, not a single heart sullen.
But brimming with life, awakened for the new season.
Your waters are what allowed us to grow
First a colony, then a kingdom, then finally an empire
We will cherish the gifts that you have provided us
For without them, we would surely cease to exist.
And as we harvest the bountiful crops
Which grow in the fertile lands you have provided
We await once again, your magnificent arrival.
To begin the cycle of life all over again.
Miracles of Ancient Egypt: The Snake-Man and his Master
by Tarisha Hasan
As a farmer, Ahmed worked his fields and tended to the city projects and tombs when the fields were flooded. One day, however, the pharaoh’s only son had died of a mysterious disease. All the citizens panicked, for they knew the pharaoh was aged and nearing the end of his life. As he helped in building the tomb for the prince, he wondered if there was still hope. After the tomb was complete, Ahmed went home to consider the current situation. The late pharaoh’s officials were still trying to find someone.
Ahmed decided that it was finally time to do something. He took to training carefully as a scribe. He hired an artisan to carve a cartouche for the new pharaoh, who was female. The artisan obliged. When the carving was finished, a courier was instructed to deliver the stone carving. However, there was a problem: the weather was bleak and overcast. After a while, it was agreed that the carving should be delivered in a protective covering. When it was finally delivered, however, a lightning bolt struck the herald while he was making his way back.
Back at his mansion, Ahmed was calmly reading a papyrus scroll in his library with his hired artisan when another courier of his came running to his door.
“Master!” Hossain called. Ahmed suddenly turned his head in the direction of the cry. He ran to his other courier as he was certain his prior request would go smoothly.
“What is the matter?” Ahmed was worried. Never before had a close one of his get injured on his watch. The courier said that someone was injured, and they both set
out to save their ally.
By the time they found the first courier, he was in a doctor’s office, lying wounded and exhausted. Hossain asked the doctor how his colleague had become the way he did. The answer was shocking.
“The lightning strike was an omen.”
“What exactly do you mean by this?”
“It’s hard to say. Nevertheless, see that he stays safe. Come back again if he displays any more symptoms.”
Ahmed slowly nodded. He and Hossain carefully carried their ally back home, taking care that they carried him high enough. When they finally got back home, the injured messenger was put to rest.
The next morning, the ill courier began to show signs of severe illness. When he was awakened, it was revealed that the courier’s right hand was growing scales. The same had ha
ppened to his left hand, raising worries. Even after the scales were removed, they kept growing back.
“You’ll have to go to a priest,” the physician said. Even after he tried the spells that they prescribed, they only partially worked. Some of the scales did disappear, but they soon began growing back.
“What shall we do with you, Asaad?” Ahmed asked. “All the cures we tried either don’t work or only work temporarily.” Asaad simply replied, “The reason why there is no permanent cure is that this was destined to happen.” This struck the other two silent for a couple moments. Ahmed then said, “So you knew this was all going to happen?” Assad related his whole story of the particular circumstances he grew up in and how it contributed to his developing lizard-like appearance.
“The only thing you can do right now is let the transformation happen and leave me in peace.” Ahmed realized that there really was no point in trying to find a cure. As a result, he instructed his other herald to make accommodations for Asaad while he went into his chamber to write an entry on his small papyrus journal. A few days later, Asaad was still the same person he was before he became lizard-like. However, word had spread in his town, and people came to inquire after the strange lizard-man he kept as a servant. Ahmed tried his best to keep all the visitors at a distance, but it was no use. Smaller reptilians were not usually common where he lived, let alone hybrids of humans and lizards.
When Ahmed tried to rest after a long day, he found that he was unable to, as he had spent all day fielding requests from his clients to write letters for them. He decided to take a drink that Hossain had offered him, and then after that, he slept rather uneasily through the night. When he woke up, he was more determined than ever to find out the cause of this mutation. He researched for days without stopping, and that’s when he finally found out the cause.
It was revealed that Assad had come from a family of snake charmers outside of Egypt’s borders and that he had caught a rare and incurable disease after a snake bit him. He did survive, but at a great price: he was to become a snake-man. A valuable lesson was learned from this event: no matter how hard one tried, there are times where fate was inevitable and had to take its course.
A Memorable Day in the Life of an Egyptian Farmer
by Mayukh Day
It’s August and the day of the annual flooding of the Nile. This annual flood has been an important natural cycle in Egypt since ancient times. Today is the day where it’s decided how much water Mafas II gets throughout the year.In the morning the farmer, Mafas II, gave a prayer to Osiris, the god of agriculture for lots of water today. Since his wife is pregnant and can give birth at any time, Mafas II, gave a prayer to Bes, the guardian god of childbirth. Next, he ate
his breakfast and set off into the fields, imagining what he would do in the fields today.
In the fields, he first uses the shaduf to irrigate his fields carefully. Then, he puts the stone markings for his boundary of water. After all that hard work, Mafas gathers a few cattle and a few ducks for his meals. Then he returns back to his house for supper.
Then he gives evening prayer to Bes, the guardian god of childbirth, and Osiris, the god of agriculture. For supper he eats meat, bread, and beer. After supper he plays twenty squares and Senet with his son. He stays up late when everyone in the family sleeps.
Then at the dark of night, the farmer paddles nervously out and shifts the stones to steal a few feet of water from his neighbors. Mafas knows this is very profitable, but the penalty of this crime could mean death. Thankfully, no one noticed him do this crime. Mafas goes to bed dreaming of his day tomorrow.
by Ava-Ray Pributsky
I walk down the dusty dirt path as I head to do some research at The House of Life, to look up medical papyri for how to treat a headache. My patient Abasi, one of many grandchildren of Rameses II, has been complaining of a sharp pain in the back of his head every morning for the past week. Having been trained by my father Djehutyemheb, a wise scribe and physician to the royal family, I am now able to care for royalty. I have given him amulets from the Goddess Isis and the God Heke. Isis is invoked because Abasi is sick and Heka to make the prayer more powerful. I will continue to look for additional cures. It is 1259 B.C.E, and Pharaoh Ramses is in rule. Kemet has just signed a peace treaty with the Hittites, who we have been battling with for several years. I have not known a time when we were not in war with them. Ramses II has spent too much money on fighting, so he decided to make peace with them.
This is the first peace treaty ever for Kemet. I am intercepted on my path by Maat, a young girl servant to Ramses II who has only just started working at the palace Ramesseum. “Naunet, Sese’s daughter Meritamun has a growth in her left eye! She is deeply upset and refuses to go outside for fear of people seeing her.” I try to calm her down and explain to her how I will create a mixture of red ochre that I can get from Abubakar at the temple, green eye-paint of malachite that I can pick up at the House of Life, and honey from the beehive near my house, and I will come to the palace and apply this to the growth two times per day. I also will take some black tea leaves, wrap them in muslin, soak them in hot water, and apply it to the eye. Finally, I will give Meritamun an amulet with the eye of Horus for her to wear. I continue my way down to The House of Life, thinking about the incantations to be prepared.
When the Sun Did Not Rise
by Genessis Gomez
Deep in the underworld there was a serpent called Apophis who detested the sun god Ra. Every night as Ra descended to the underworld for his nightly trip, Apophis was ready with another scheme. That fateful morning was coming, as people started to wake up confused that the sun had not risen. Farmers and merchants walked with lanterns to the places they usually worked confused, thinking that they woke up earlier and that the sun was going to rise very soon. But the priests, who knew about the serpent Apophis, hurried to the temples to help Ra.
The hours started to go by and the farmers, merchants, and even slaves started to worry. As the priests started to gather what they needed and muttered spells from the Book of Dead, the people outside started to pray very loud hoping that Ra was not dead. Back in the underworld, Ra received the prayers and spells (spells were also put on Apophis which was making him weaker). Ra received more power from the human praises above and soon enough he was able to fight off Apophis. He continued to float through the underworld and the sun started to rise again. From that day on, the Egyptians prayed that Ra had a safe passage and never forgot to thank him for the light he gave them every day.
Oh, What Greatness Comes When the Nile Flows
by Ezra Ipsa
Greatness that comes when the Nile flows,
It gives life to Egypt watering fields warmed by Ra,
Allowing our crops to grow so our cattle can live,
And we have food to eat.
Home of the fish, you give us grain and create barley,
Letting us ensure perpetuity to the temples,
And for the gods.
When offerings are made it is thanks to you,
Spreading all through Egypt, the creator of greatness,
You give us water to drink and to give to our livestock.
O, what greatness comes when the Nile flows,
It lets us thrive and prosper,
Like one with the gods we praise you,
For all you have done for us.
A Day In the Life of an Ancient Egyptian Scribe
by Jordin Lin
The sun leaked through the window of the Abasi’s adobe house. He frowned; morning had arrived. Hardly awake, he stood up from his bed and went to take a quick bath. Once finished, he got dressed into more appropriate clothing: a waist-to-knee kilt with a sheer blouse. Abasi was a stern man, as his name did mean ‘stern.’ He was very serious about his role as a scribe. The man absolutely despised it when something got in the way of him doing his job, so he made sure to meticulously plan out his day every morning so that everything would go smoothly. After changing into his outfit, he walked over to his nearby table to eat breakfast. The breakfast he usually ate was simple: lentils, bread, and eggs; it was enough to keep him going until the next meal.
Once he finished with his breakfast, he took out a small piece of papyrus, a thin, reed brush, and some ink. He slowly wrote down a detailed plan of how his day was going, starting from when he finished his breakfast. The main, and only, event on his schedule was to go down to the village and write down what was happening, specifically about the workers as did their labor. After 10 minutes of a walk in the hot sun, Abasi arrived at the nearby village. He looked around and took out his plan for the day. First, he would watch the over farmers, then the carpenter, then the washerman, then lastly, the maker of pots. Placing the note back into his small bag, he readjusted his posture, making sure he looked as presentable as possible
With one last stroke, he was finished for the day. Abasi nodded to the maker of pots, indicating that it was time for him to leave. The pot-maker nodded back at Abasi as he started to place up his papyrus, ink, and reed brush back into his small bag. Once Abasi completed packing up his materials, he exited the workshop. Surprised, he noticed that the sky was already quite dark. He had not noticed how much time had flown by. Quickening his pace, he speed-walked back to his house, ready to eat dinner and go to sleep. Abasi loved the sense of fulfillment every time he did his job without realizing the passing time. Today was such an example. Hours of work felt like only a few minutes. He lied down into his bed, smiling to himself. Rolling onto his side, he fell asleep, preparing for the next day.
The Horizon of Heaven
by Milan Riley
Egypt Unearths New Mummies Dating Back 2,500 Years – New York Times
50 ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis – The Guardian
Five-thousand-year-old Egyptian tomb opens for virtual tour – The Guardian
Tomb of Queen Meresankh III – Harvard UniversityRead More