7th-grade STEAM has just finished their 2nd-semester PBL project and it was hard work but a lot of fun. Here is an overview of the whole thing.
These 7th graders started off the project by reading the book, The Outsiders. This experience takes a lot of time reading and annotating. During this time you really learn the characters and setting you’re in. After looking deep into the book we did the same thing with the movie. The book and movie are about several boys in a gang that got into a bit of trouble with the law. This is what the final mock trial is about.
The next thing the students did was studying actual courtroom trials. They watched multiple examples and took notes on how people talked, presented, dressed, and even moved around. They studied all the different ways to ask questions and how to object to them. In math class, they would work on their SketchUp model of the crime scene.
After that, the 7th graders learned what role they would be playing. There were 20 different roles for these trials. There were the usual courtroom roles like judges, bailiffs, and attorneys for both sides. Then there were the actual roles such as the 2 main characters, their friends, enemies from the opposing gang, officers, and the coroner.
Once they got these roles, the courtroom roles continued to study the trials while the witnesses studied their characters. This is when in their science class they would practice the actual trial. Their science teacher, Mrs. Traylor, would help them get into character and help them learn their lines. She was asked what her favorite part was and she answered, “Watching the kids get into character was really hysterical and seeing them get all dressed up for their parts was really a cool thing to experience.”
Last, after all of the studying, they wrote their script all on their own, some even added some skits and funny parts using the roles.
After all of the preparation, they finally go to go to an actual courthouse in san pedro. They went to the San Pedro Municipal building and used a courtroom that had been in actual trials. All of the mock trials came out great!
We asked many students who participated in the mock trial about their opinions and experiences.
Dylan Matlock, also known as Johnny Cade from The Outsiders, said, “It was extremely fun. I was acting like I was getting interviewed from the prosecution. I liked going to the courthouse and acting like I was getting harassed by the paparazzi.”
Mason Ellis, who played Officer Starsky had to say, “My favorite part was going to the field trip and it was fun that we could perform. It was okay and I know why they are making us do it but at the same time it was too rushed.”
Nadia Atkins, who was a defense attorney, commented, “Doing it at the courthouse was the best part. And I think seeing that Johnny got the right sentence was also the best part.”
Overall, Mock Trial is something really unique that most kids don’t get the opportunity to do. If you are able to participate in this activity it could be a really great experience and can maybe give you the inspiration to pursue something into law when you’re older.