Thursday, January 11, 2001

Labs whet taste for science

Program pairs high school students with first-graders

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Students at Newport High School have some young lab partners in their science classes this year.

        As part of a fledgling junior science program, high school students have teamed with first-graders from Fourth Street Elementary School for a series of lab experiments.

[photo] Brandi Newton, 15, smears lard on the glove of Fourth Street Elementary first-grader Dylan Frey, 7, as part of a joint lab experiment Wednesday.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        The elementary students trekked to the high school for the second time Wednesday, this time to experiment with the insulating power of blubber.

        “It's so important to get the (elementary) kids here. It gets them excited about science and about school,” said Lisaann Hampton, a high school biology teacher who started the program with Fourth Street teacher Kristi Duff.

        The students get together once a month for a joint lab related to what both groups are studying. The information is presented so the younger students can understand.

        Taking the role of teachers, the high school students are paired with a first-grader and walk them through the experiments.

        “They feel a real responsibility to learn the information before the first-graders get here,” Ms. Hampton said of her 10th-graders.

        The younger and older students benefit from working together, the teachers say.

        “They cooperate a lot more with the big kids than they do with each other,” Ms. Duff said of her students. “The younger ones act more mature, and the older ones are more responsible.”

        Ms. Hampton and Ms. Duff started the partnership last fall.

        As an assignment for a graduate course at Northern Kentucky University, the teachers got their students together for an experiment on oil spills and their effect on the ocean.

        The lesson was so successful the teachers decided to make it a monthly occurance and recruited two more teachers to participate.

[photo] Newport High School sophomore Justin Simpson (right), 15, helps first-grader Michael Friedhoff, 6, Wednesday.
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        On Wednesday, students experimented with “blubber,” or Bob Evans lard, and cold water to determine the lard's effectiveness as an insulator.

        Across the hall, Ms. Dunn's chemistry class and Lora Houser's first-graders from Fourth Street used graphing calculators to plot temperatures of melting ice.

        “We never got to do this when I was little,” said Joe Legner, 16. “It's fun watching them play with all the stuff.”

        But being the teacher can also be frustrating, said Justin Simpson, 15, as he worked to keep 6-year-old Michael Friedhoff on task.

        “They sometimes don't want to do their work but just look around the room,” he said.

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