A 9/11 Time Capsule Propels Students Back into History

Students viewing time capsule contents

According to Hileman, the students opening the time capsule was “very cool to witness. Lines between students and guest dissolved.”

I had no idea 10 years ago that the time capsule my class created to commemorate 9/11 would hold so much power. When my current middle school and high school students opened the capsule last week, we were stunned by the artifacts, videos, books and pictures that told stories of that day.

Surveying each element retrieved from time, the students were mesmerized by the artifacts: letters from children to terrorists, pictures of the World Trade Center collapsing. Almost instantly, some picked up newspapers and started reading. Other immersed themselves in books.

9/11 Time Capsule

Guests from the community joined our classroom to open our capsule and to share their experiences on 9/11. Mr. and Mrs. Hemenway described losing their son in the Pentagon, and Mrs. Hemenway confided her fears that our country is beginning to forget. The press, there to catch history unveiled, put down their cameras and notes to examine artifacts with us, passing around a piece of the WTC courtyard wall. Several school administrators and a gold-star mother named Debbie–who lost her son two years ago in service to our country in Afghanistan–came to sit, listen, and remember. Sergeant Crane from the US Army Reserve donated a book about the history of military service for our new time capsule. He also promised to work with Fort Riley to secure us two metal ammunition boxes to house our own artifacts.

I’m so proud of my students from 10 years ago for making this amazing time travel teaching tool. And I am proud of my current students for being open to learning in a novel way. I’m proud of my community and local press for sharing the story in different venues. I’m even more excited and proud to work with my current students in grades 6-8 and 11-12 to create and organize a NEW 10 year remembrance time capsule to be created, stored and reopened on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Keil Hileman
Keil Hileman teaches social studies to grades 6-8 and 11-12 at Monticello Trails in Shawnee, KS. He is a 2008-09 Teaching Ambassador Fellow and a 19-year veteran teacher.

Read the class webpage.