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project description found here


completed with partner Shannon Smith

“Corey honey, time to go to bed.”

“Aww, mom do I have to just yet.”

“Yes honey tomorrow is going to be a long day, we are going into the city.”

“But I don’t like the city, everything is so old and boring.”

“You know, grandpa grew up in the city I’m sure he could tell you some fun stories that would make the city seem less boring.”

Corey wondered into the living room where his grandpa sat reading the newspaper while sipping a cup of tea.

“Grandpa, can you tell me a story about when you were growing up?”

“Sure kid, why don’t you go get ready for bed and ill meet you in your room.”

Corey quickly changed into his pajamas and slipped into bed after brushing his teeth. His grandfather had already pulled a chair up by his bed and was waiting for him to get comfortable.

“So what was the city like when you grew up grandpa? Just as old and boring?”

“Well it was still very old but the buildings and people had more life than they do now.”

“What do you mean grandpa?”

“Well you see, long before I was born the ruler of Rome would travel around the world and would bring back something new from the different places he visited. He would bring back strange animals like elephants from Africa, new types of cloth and textiles from India and sweets from Belgium and Switzerland. Then one day, on the way home from one of his adventures, his ship took shore on an island that he had never noticed before. Being the Adventurer he was, he began to investigate and came upon a mysterious group of people who were worshipping in a giant round temple with an enormous hole in the roof. Rome’s ruler grew curious about this strange community and asked the people about their building and practices. He was instantly intrigued and wanted to bring back their ideas with him, so he convinced some of the islanders to come with him back to Rome and build a similar building for the same purpose. By the next year, construction had begun and the Romans began to watch as a massive circular building began to grow up out of the ground. The Romans had never seen a round building of this size before and grew both curious and worried that it was wrong for their town. They began helping the builders and showed them their building methods and where to get materials. The Romans also convinced the foreigners to add a traditional Roman temple front on the entrance with columns and a triangular top to help the building fit in with the city. For the Romans, the entrance helped show the blending of this foreign culture with their new ideas, along with those of the Romans. When the building was completed, people came from all over the city to see the new, massive building that stood freestanding in the middle of a piazza. The ruler held a ceremony and told his people that although the building was completed physically, the function of the building would not be clear yet. His people grew loud with excitement and didn’t hear what he was saying about the buildings function. Once he finished, the giant doors were opened and the town slowly poured in. Silence fell over the crowd. As they crossed the threshold, the people were blinded by the sun, which came flooding in through a giant hole in the roof that towered far above the heads of the people. Everyone lifted their chins and looked up, setting the theme for the years to come.”

“Why was there a hole in the roof grandpa, wouldn’t the rain and birds come in?”

“Yes they did and that was exactly the purpose, as the city soon found out. A week after opening, the building was closed off again and only the foreigners were allowed inside. Those that lived in the neighborhood, or stopped by out of curiosity, witnessed the coming and going of shiny tubes that both entered and left the building. Soon the rain came and the people wondered what happened to all the water that showered down through the oculus. As spring was approaching, the ruler of Rome began planning a giant festival that was to involve all of Rome. Spring marked the beginning of the new planting season and was very important to the Roman culture. As the sun came up on the first day of spring the farmers set up their markets with the last of the winter fruits and vegetables and people came from all over the empire to celebrate the beginning of a new season. Then suddenly right as the clock struck nine, a strange yet beautiful sound filled the sky that no one could quite recognize or even describe. As the crowds all turned their heads upward looking for the source of the music they were startled when they found giant bubbles floating through the sky as clouds do on a breezy day.”

“Bubbles grandpa?”

“Yes Corey, big ones, ones that could reflect the entire city in one image, giving the Romans a new perspective of the place that they lived and called home.”

“How big were they grandpa?”

“Big enough for you to fit inside”

“Really! But, Grandpa, why were there bubbles?”

“Well you see the Romans had lost track of what their city used to mean to them, they no longer had pride in their city and they had forgotten about the beauty of their home. The bubbles were a way to show the Romans their city in a way they had never seen it before but also played the role of cleansing the city not just of dirt and grime, but of their old habits, and old views, representing a new fresh start. Sort of like your tradition of buying new clothes before you start a new year of school.”

“But where did the bubbles come from grandpa?”

“Do you remember the building I told you about in the beginning of the story with the hole in the roof?”


“Well, that is where both the music and the bubbles were coming from.”

“Why was there music? And how did they make bubbles that big?”
“Well my grandfather was just as curious as you were, so on one of the celebration days that took place at the beginning of every season, much like the one I just described, he wondered around the huge columns that made up the entrance and in through the giant doors and found himself standing in the center of an orchestra. The light came in through the roof and shined about half way down the wall where there were pieces of glass hanging, focusing the light to a point much like a magnifying glass would.  At that point, activated by burning combustible powder from the light, the beginning of a series of gears would begin slowly turning until they had enough power to continuously turn. Each gear spun another gear, larger then the one before it until it got to the end where a giant gear with wands inside spun over a trough of water. Standing underneath the wands was a Somnium, which is what the Romans called the foreigners who brought this amazing celebration with them. A Somnium would be waiting for the wand to be perfectly position over the trough and then he would reach up and pull it down into the liquid inside the trough and then release it to allow it to continue the cycle. The troughs bordering the building were all connected to a grand cistern straight across from the entrance, which was where the Somniums mixed their secret formula to make the bubbles, and then distributed it back to each trough. After the wands were dipped into the mixture, they turned over a series of pipes from which a majestic sound would come bursting through, blowing the bubbles in different sizes depending on the type and amount of sound that came through the pipe.  If you followed these pipes into the chambers along the side of the building they curved upward, towering above those who were now crowded in the center with my father observing the stunning performance surrounding them. The pipes disappeared into the walls and then appeared again in front of a Somnium who sat playing the pipes much like one would an organ. Only with each press of a button or a pedal, a different sort of sound was pushed down through the pipes and then back up and out into a bubble. This system was happening all around the circle where there were different instruments being played as the light from the roof moved across the interior of the building focusing the power on a different set of machines. Bubbles began to fill up the spherical space and slowly emptied out of the roof and made their way around the city above the heads of the people.”

“So how come I have never seen these bubbles grandpa? Will I get to see them tomorrow?”

“Sadly no, you see they stopped making the bubbles and the foreigners who made them returned home to their island.”

“Why grandpa, what happened?”

“The Romans lost track of why the bubbles were made in the first place and got greedy with the image they formed of the city. They wanted to keep the bubbles and they became an object of desire as if they were a rare material object sought after for purchase. This angered the Somniums who had tried to share something special with the Romans by bringing them Sanus, or what the Romans now referred to as bubbles, but the Romans has lost sight of their purpose and the Somniums left, taking the orchestra with them.“

“Is the building still there, grandpa?”

“Yes it is, perhaps you can visit it tomorrow with your mother.

“Will I see the instruments and the gears and bubbles?”

I’m afraid they are no longer there to see.  But, if you listen closely, you may be able to still hear the faint sounds of the instruments, and if you look hard enough, as you walk through the city you can try and find the bubbles and see the city a whole new way. But for tonight, I think it’s time you go to bed Corey.”

“Okay grandpa, goodnight.”

“Goodnight Corey.”

His grandfather returned the chair to the desk under the window, turned off the light and Corey quickly fell asleep and dreamed about bubbles and magicians, the music-makers. His grandfather returned to the living room with a new cup of tea to finish his newspaper, listening to an old sound.