We’re not sure if the 6th graders in Will Mathews’ 6-Green social studies classes at Middlebrook School will ‘Walk Like an Egyptian,’ but they will certainly know what they’re talking about when they walk visitors around their classroom, which has been transformed to look like King Tutankhamen’s Tomb.

This is the 16th year Mathews has had his students transform the classroom, using walls painted to look like the stones of the Boy King’s tomb, complete with hieroglyphics, and props to create the archeological site at the tomb’s discovery. While the blocks are still the original ones used 16 years ago, the paintings are created each year by the students, who paint the hieroglyphics and wall paintings to make an incredibly life-like ancient tomb.

#wiltonwayct #middlebrookway #sixgreenway #6Gkingtutstomb2016 pic.twitter.com/rFJBoclVMZ

— William Mathews (@MrMathewsClass) January 9, 2016

Several parents pitch in as well, coming to school one Saturday to help put up the walls and get everything set up, putting together the large styrofoam blocks painted to look like sandstone rocks. They create three ‘rooms’–an exterior space set up to be the excavation site in the Valley of the Kings, an antechamber and the burial chamber with a sarcophagus. The burial chamber is almost exactly the same size as the real tomb.

#wiltonwayct #middlebrookway #sixgreenway #6Gkingtutstomb2016 Parents get to have fun too. Saturday school rocks. pic.twitter.com/9ohIIqZZ3s

— William Mathews (@MrMathewsClass) January 9, 2016

Each of his 108 students creates an artifact that might have been found there, and they do research—enough to become exhibit curators and museum docents for visitors and guests who tour the space.

Every year, says Mathews, he loves to watch how engaged the kids get, becoming immersed in the learning by actively participating in it.

“There are so many parts to this project that I cherish, going all the way back to over a month ago when they chose their artifacts and began the research process to learn about the artifact that was assigned to them. Another part I look forward to every year is being in school on a Saturday with parent volunteers who construct the walls of the tomb and have the opportunity to be a part of the project. This positive parent engagement is really important and I would like to find more opportunities for it. Overall I think the part I love to see the most is how through the whole process the students begin to take ownership of the entire experience, and buy into the transformation of the classroom as their imaginations take over to transport them to a different time and place,” he says.

#wiltonwayct #middlebrookway #sixgreenway #6Gkingtutstomb docent research in the tomb. Learning Tut’s family tree. pic.twitter.com/D03pnrmlVg

— William Mathews (@MrMathewsClass) January 15, 2016

Mathews has posted frequent glimpses of the students on social media, as they began preparing over the last several months. His classes started learning about ancient Egypt in December and then actively planning and researching starting in January. They work hard up to the very end, he says.

Tomb Crew. #6Gkingtutstomb2016 #sixgreenway #middlebrookway #wiltonwayct pic.twitter.com/AknsA0SqR8

— William Mathews (@MrMathewsClass) January 21, 2016

“The students’ main responsibility during their social studies classes is to take on the role of being museum docents. They are currently working on drafting their docent narratives and rehearsing their tours,” Mathews explains.

That magic moment when they start to own it. #wiltonwayct #middlebrookway #sixgreenway #6Gkingtutstomb2016 pic.twitter.com/fkmYye9z3E

— William Mathews (@MrMathewsClass) January 27, 2016

Mathews says his main goal for the students is to take the real world skills they’re applying in the classroom—research and note taking, writing, using technology to collaborate, and practicing public speaking—and combine them with a simulation or transformation or performance. As a result, he explains, “the teaching and learning experience is a deeper one for all of us.”

He also got a great opportunity to show this year’s students what kind of an impact taking part in the project can have.

“I describe to the students that they are the 16th group of students to participate in this project, and about 1,700 kids have been through these same rooms of the tomb before them. Some of those kids are 27 years old and I routinely hear from some of them, or their parents, that they still have the artifact they made, and I want my students to feel connected to something that feels bigger than the sum of all our parts. I recently received a postcard from a woman who participated in King Tut’s Tomb our second year in 2002 when she was a sixth grader, and she wanted to know whether we still produce this project. I was able to find her professional profile on a company’s website that she worked for and shared that and the experience with my current students so they could hopefully make that connection to something that is bigger than just us here in the classroom.”

Guests are invited to visit during the school day Tuesday-Thursday, Feb. 2, 3, and 4 from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.. The tomb will also be open to guests on Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb 2 and 3) during evening hours from 4-6 p.m..