Your middle schooler will have no personal recollection of the New York skyline with the Twin Towers or the tragic events of 9/11. However, completing projects on the Twin Towers helps her learn the history of the towers, what they symbolized to New Yorkers and Americans, and the long-term consequences of the terrorist attack that destroyed the towers in 2001. By keeping the memory of the "Day the Towers Fell" alive, you can open the door for discussing world issues and pathways to peace.
Art and Architecture
The Twin Towers were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s using many innovative architectural engineering methods to strengthen them against wind shear and resist twisting and vibrating. If your middle schooler is mechanically and artistically inclined, he can research the history of constructing the World Trade Center complex to identify the engineering features designed to support what were at the time the tallest skyscrapers ever built and learn about the designers and financers of the project. Then he can either make an architectural blueprint drawing to illustrate the features or create a scale model of the towers and the surrounding landscape.
9/11 was not the first time the World Trade Center towers had been attacked. In 1993, terrorists set off a bomb in an underground parking garage causing considerable damage to the garage and killing six people, but leaving the towers standing. The second attack, of course, was more damaging, resulting in the complete destruction of the Twin Towers and several surrounding buildings. This begs the question as to what the towers symbolized that would cause terrorists to target them repeatedly. Have your teenager write a report or poem; or design a digital slideshow or make a tri-fold display explaining what the buildings meant to New Yorkers. Ask her to explain how the collapse of the towers can, in some ways, be equated with psychological warfare that attacks people's sense of identity, confidence, security and permanence.
The collapse of the Twin Towers left behind physical, mental and emotional rubble with far-reaching effects. Families who lost loved ones must deal with the hole left by their absence. Those who had financial ties to the affected area had to recover from the economic losses and rebuild their businesses. Others had to redirect any emotional attachment to the buildings as a seemingly unchangeable landmark of the New York landscape or symbol of prosperity and power. Everyone who personally experienced the tragedy has a story to tell of loss and healing. Have your middle schooler read firsthand accounts of the survivor's experiences or if possible, interview a survivor, rescue worker or family member of one of the victims. If geographical proximity permits, visit the memorials at Ground Zero. If not, look at pictures and read accounts of how the victims and heroes are being honored and remembered. Brainstorm with your teen what kind of memorial or tribute she can create to honor those who lost their lives in the attack, such as a plaque, a model monument or a biography of one of the victims to put a human face on the casualty list.
In the wake of 9/11 and the towers' collapse, the collective consciousness of the nation reeled with the horror, leaving many longing for peace to reflect and heal from the tragic events. If your teen is a budding horticulturalist, he can spearhead the creation of a peace garden that honors the heroes and victims, either at school, in the community or in a home garden. By giving people a quiet and relaxing place to retreat, meditate and pray for healing and wholeness after tragedy, he can be part of seeking peaceful solutions rather than continuing the cycle of hate that leads to such destruction and death as the nation saw on the "Day the Towers Fell."