“Pew, pew, pew, pew!” Ellie Black said to start off her one-minute speech about American sharpshooter Annie Oakley.

Trey Owen held a basketball above his head to shoot it into a goal and then recited information about hoops legend Larry Bird.

“Hello there,” Taylor Smith said in her best British accent while sharing facts about Queen Elizabeth II.

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Collin Downing wore a red sweater and white wig and held a folding chair — but chose not to throw it — as he talked about former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight.

These students were among 24 third-graders in Beth Shelton’s class who participated in the recent wax museum in the Brownstown Elementary School gymnasium and cafeteria.

After researching a famous historical or present-day person, each of the students put some of that information on a display board and dressed like the person.

Other students and teachers at the school and family members were invited to attend the event and press a paper button in front of each student to bring them to life.

Having done the project for a few years in a row, Shelton said it’s interesting to see what people her students choose.

“This group had different interests and characters that I had never had before,” she said. “I at least like for them to choose someone that they are interested in because they will usually put forth the work and the research and the time and get involved in it.”

The project starts with each student reading a short biography book on the person they chose. They use the internet to do more research.

Their display board must include a biography, a hand-drawn portrait, a timeline, a word cloud, compare and contrast, a Venn diagram, an information sheet and a map. The timeline includes at least 10 important events in the person’s lifetime, and the map shows places where they were born and lived and in some instances where they died.

The biography is written in third person, and they take some of the information and put it into a first-person speech for the day of the wax museum.

“The dress, the public speaking, the memorization for them at first, that always seems like an undoable task, but they all spent a lot of time memorizing,” Shelton said. “We talked about how to speak in front of people and how to make eye contact and slow down and speak up, so that’s a process, too.”

Shelton said she’s fortunate to have good parent involvement because she only had to help three of her students with their costume.

“I think it’s good parent involvement in the school knowing that they are welcome and invite them in,” she said. “I think it’s also a nice culminating activity at the end of the year when (the students) are so over the textbook-type learning, so it’s outside of that.”

Collin said he liked reading about Knight’s career, which included the infamous chair-throwing incident Feb. 23, 1985, during a game against Purdue when he didn’t agree with a referee’s call.

Collin said he watched a video of that.

“Apparently, he did not like the call, and he threw the chair at the ref,” he said.

Aside from that, Collin said he learned Knight won an NCAA championship as a player and three as a coach.

In researching Bird, Trey said he thought it was interesting how Bird started his shot with the ball above his head.

“I like how he could shoot like it was nothing,” Trey said.

He chose to portray Bird because of their shared interest in basketball.

“I’ve played basketball for a long time, and I like watching the NBA and college basketball,” Trey said.

Outside of basketball, Trey found out Bird grew up very poor.

“I wanted to find out about Larry Bird, and that’s what happened,” he said. “I found out a lot about Larry Bird.”

Taylor said she chose to research Queen Elizabeth II since she, too, has a British heritage.

“I have British in me, and I’ve wanted to learn more about her most of my life,” Taylor said.

It also was a fun opportunity to practice her British accent.

“It pretty much came naturally, but I had to work on it a little bit,” she said. “I’ve liked the speech. It is really easy to memorize.”

Third-grader Micah Sheffer also expressed his interest in sports, dressing like professional golfer Payne Stewart, who was famous for wearing knickers, knee-high socks and Kangol hats.

The most interesting fact he learned about Stewart is that he won three major championships.

“That’s pretty good in golf,” Micah said, adding he would like to accomplish that someday.

He also found out Stewart died in an airplane accident when he was 42.

“Because he died in a plane crash, that gave me some motivation to learn about him,” he said.

Micah said he has played golf most of his life, so that’s why he chose to portray a famous golfer.

“It’s just really fun,” he said. “I’ve won quite a bit of big tournaments.”

Classmate Floyd Davis said J.R.R. Tolkien wrote some of his favorite books, so it was easy for him to choose a person to portray for the wax museum.

He wore a suit, a tie and a hat, added some gray coloring to his hair, put a pipe in his mouth and sat in front of a typewriter with the books “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” displayed.

Floyd said he is working on reading both of those books.

“I learned more about him and what books he wrote,” he said.

Wearing a green crown and robe and holding a torch, it was easy to realize Genna Preston portrayed the Statue of Liberty.

She said she chose that because it symbolizes freedom for a lot of people.

The most interesting fact she learned is the Statue of Liberty started out as copper when it arrived in America in 1885 but turned green by 1920.

Genna said she liked having the opportunity to do the project.

“It was fun to put stuff on our boards and get to put our costumes on,” she said.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.