Before traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit some of our country's finest museums, Liberty Middle School eighth-graders created a museum of their own.

Before traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit some of our country's finest museums, Liberty Middle School eighth-graders created a museum of their own.

Last week, students displayed their year-end projects, creating a Civil War museum.

"The museum project was developed to integrate the English and social studies curriculum," said Jared Mills, Liberty Middle School history teacher in an e-mail.

"In the past, Liberty has developed some constructive end-of-the-year projects and the museum has simply developed as a result of staff efforts from prior years. It also coincides well with the eighth-grade Washington, D.C., trip which will include a number of museum tours."

The Civil War is a large part of the eighth-grade social studies curriculum, Mills said.

Student projects focused on a topic of interest in American history between the years of 1861-1865, Mills said. Students have chosen topics such as ironclads, women's clothing, Gettysburg, weaponry and drummer boys.

Dorianne Ma studied African-American involvement in the Civil War.

"Something that really surprised me while I was researching was that the Emancipation Proclamation that Abraham Lincoln passed didn't actually free any person because it only applied to the South even though (the South) had seceded from the Union," Ma said in an e-mail.

Her study focused on regiments, she said. The Massachusetts 54th was her favorite regiment because it was a group that "gave the African-American soldiers a good name and made them not as doubted in other people's eyes."

Mike Dietz studied the cannons of the Civil War.

"(The) cannons were so diverse during the Civil War," Dietz said in an e-mail. "There were many different specifications a cannon could have, like a gun or howitzer, smoothbore or rifled, and siege, ground or seacoast."

Dietz's favorite historical figure from the Civil War was Union Gen. Thomas Jackson Rodman "because he made so many different sizes for cannons."

Mills said the research projects help students to "use higher-level thinking to extend their knowledge of the United States Civil War while utilizing research methods they have used throughout the year. Students also take ownership of their learning and develop a deep understanding of the research process."

It's common for people to ask why in the United States the study of history is considered so important.

"Studying U.S. history teaches students what it means to be an American, and also helps us understand the identity of an American," Mills said.

"Unlike many countries, the United States is comprised of a variety of cultures. This makes us a rather complex and unique country. The better we understand what it means to be an American, the better we will be able to serve each other in the future."