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IWAKUNI MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Japan — The guy who invented the telephone was there. So was the fellow whose bright idea resulted in the light bulb. Even that character with long hair — whose kite flying produced such shocking results — showed up.

Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin: They — or, to be precise, pupils playing them — were among dozens of inventors represented in The Living Museum project that took over the Matthew C. Perry Elementary School gym Thursday afternoon.

The concept was to bring history to life by having children portray the subjects they studied. Thursday’s program was the culmination of work that 67 pupils from the school’s three fourth grade classes began in November.

Pupils showcased their research about the famous inventors they’d selected — and the not-so-famous, such as Bartlomeo Cristofori.

Not exactly a household name but students learned Thursday his work is key to much of the music coming through their headphones. In fact, it’s 88 keys: Christofori invented the piano.

Pupils more into Harleys than Haydn might, of course, have been more interested in chatting up the pupil portraying Gottlich Daimler — who envisioned and created the motorcycle.

The Living Museum is part of the school’s collaborative programming, said Gloria Stephens, teacher of one of the three fourth- grade classes. The students had to use several skills — such as computer usage, communications, art, writing and even mechanics — then collaboratively package what they’d learned into a single project.

Together, they covered the gym’s basketball court. Each student stood well-versed in details about the inventor he or she’d chosen; some even were in costume. Their task: Answer questions from other pupils, teachers and parents.

“It’s a great way for our kids to learn,” said Regina Lograsso, mother of Kristen Lograsso, 9, who researched Cristofori, the piano inventor.

“They actually did all of this in school. Kristen didn’t do anything but the poster board at home. And I thought that was great because the responsibility was all on her. She’s the one who had to articulate what she wanted to get across about the invention of the piano.”

Fresh from viewing the exhibits, Lograsso said it was “amazing” the pupils memorized so many details about not only the inventors but also their impact on society.

Stephens said pupils “had to write a paper that showed they understood the facts about the inventor’s life, his motivation concerning how he did it and why, and how the invention has affected society.”

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