CRESTVIEW — Walker Elementary School's TESSLAV time machine on its first public demonstration gushed groups of historic figures, one after the other, in a blaze of light, smoke and sound effects.
From Cleopatra and her sisters in 48 B.C. to astronauts Alan Shepherd, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1970, the time travelers, portrayed by nearly 30 third- through fifth-graders, shared brief biographical and historic backgrounds on themselves and the events surrounding them.
The Time Envelope Space Sharing Limited Access Vehicle itself was designed by fifth-grader Oliver Tuttle, who served as its operator and guard, adjusting the time "address" for each visitor.
"He's been working hard on this," proud mother Jan Tuttle said. "It's all his idea."
The TESSLAV event is a component of gifted-student teacher Liz Bears' WINGS program — Walker Inspires and Nurtures Gifted and talented Students.
It combined science, technology and history, along with a bit of performance art, into a Thursday evening show before a standing-room-only library full of parents, grandparents and siblings.
"If you can go faster than the speed of light, you can slow time down," Bears explained. "If you go super, super fast, you could reverse it."
Kindergarten through second-grade students began the evening with a travelogue slideshow about places they hope to visit someday, and led the audience in a drum circle song.
Several students in the WINGS program participated as set crewmembers and stagehands, turning Oliver's design into a functioning, blinking, smoking reality.
Lighting technician, third-grader Savannah Davis, kept her actor classmates in the spotlight.
Costumed historic figures also included Pocahontas, Patrick Henry, Sacajawea, "Titanic" Capt. John Smith, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Elvis Presley, Sir Winston Churchill, Gens. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, and Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.