High-Schoolers Teach and Learn at Science Fest

By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 1, 2008

After wandering through the colorful booths at Osbourn Park High School's Earth Jubilee science celebration, 7-year-old Kendrick Peoples was eager to share newly discovered facts.

"Did you know it takes 70 days to wrap a mummy?" the Signal Hill Elementary School second-grader said. "And, I learned you stick a needle up the nose to get the brains out. That mummy stuff was my favorite because they showed us the tools to get the brains out."

Thanks for sharing.

Kendrick was one of about 500 students from Signal Hill, Sinclair and West Gate elementary schools who descended on the driver's education course at Osbourn Park last week for the seventh annual celebration of the school's biotechnology program.

The event required 320 freshmen and sophomores to transform into teachers and present lessons on subjects such as health, nutrition, electricity and kinetic energy to eager first- through third-graders.

"We make believe we are doing it only for the little kids, but we are doing it for us, too," said Larry Nemerow, biotechnology program coordinator. "There is no higher form of learning than teaching. You can learn something for a test, but then you forget it. Here, they had to become experts on a subject, and the information will stick with them a lot longer."

During the three-hour event, elementary students eagerly darted among the 65 exhibits. They would sit attentively during the verbal presentations but were also happy to participate in the numerous hands-on activities, which included handling Donatello the lizard at the desert booth and creating paper airplanes while learning about aviation and aeronautics.

"This reinforces the science concepts they have learned, and it will stick with them because there are lots of hands-on activities; kids learn better that way," Signal Hill third-grade teacher Katie Williams said. "I've been very impressed with the student involvement."

One of Williams's students, 9-year-old Daniel Rayan, said he loves science and had been looking forward to this day. In his hand he grasped a bag full of treats, pencils and other goodies that he had won for answering questions at various booths.

"I learned that tornadoes are a mix of hot and cold, and blizzards are when there is lots of snow covering your house," the third-grader said. "I haven't seen either yet, but I want to see them only in pictures."

While Daniel rushed back to join friends at the weather booth, students at the chemical reaction table watched in awe as the high school team dropped Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle, forcing the liquid to spew upward.

Students erupted in a chorus of oohs and aahs as they watched the eruption.


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