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Science elective places students in role of teacher

Science classes teach first-grade students about endangered species

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Tyler Holcomb (center), sits with Maxine Danielson, and Samantha Sparkman while he teaches the students about tigers, Wednesday, March 30. Danielson and Sparkman said the session was educational. A group of eigth-grade students from the new environmental science elective at Scappoose Middle School spent the last month teaching first-grade and kindergarten students at Grant Watts Elementary School about endangered species using handmade educational magazines.

Each magazine was created by a student in the class and includes facts about animals and an activity page with features like crossword puzzles and color sheets.

Sally Mills, the environmental science teacher at Scappoose Middle School, said her students wanted to teach others about what they learned during their endangered species class unit.

She came up with the idea to have students make the magazines after she was inspired by alphabet books she read at home to her 18-month-old.

On Wednesday, March 30, Mills’ class visited first-graders in Rachael Rodrigue’s class. The students have been visiting one classroom a week for the past few weeks.

Giving the students an interactive classroom activity is a good way to keep the younger children engaged and learning in a new way while also incorporating creative thinking and writing skills for the middle school students, Rodrigue said.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Jakobi Kessi, an eighth-grader, works with Judiah Haynes, a first-grader, on Wednesday, March 30. Kessi created an informational magazine about devil rays that he read with Haynes during class.“Anytime you can make learning fun, that’s what first grade is all about,” Rodrigue said. “Because if they look forward to learning you can give them all sorts of information and they just soak it up.”

Students in the middle school class said they enjoyed having the opportunity to get out of the classroom, but also loved working with younger students and teaching them what they knew. Students in the first-grade classes said they also liked working with the older students, or “the big kids,” and had fun meeting new people.

Jakobi Kessi, an eighth-grader, created an endangered species magazine about devil rays, a type of ray that can grow to lengths of 18 feet. On Wednesday, he shared that fact with Judiah Haynes, a first-grader.

“One of my favorite parts is when I tell them how big it is, their eyes kind of get big,” Kessi said.

Other students, like Samantha Sparkman and Maxine Danielson, both first-graders, learned about endangered tigers from Tyler Holcomb, an eighth-grader, who said he learned a lot about tigers while creating his magazine.

“Getting to work with them on the word search was fun, and watching them color, watching them color better than me,” Holcomb joked.

When the next group of eighth-graders at Scappoose Middle School takes the environmental science class in a few weeks, Mills said she plans to have those students continue with the project and visit other classrooms at Grant Watts.