By Chris Collins
Brooklyn first- and second-graders watched in awe as a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar launched corks toward the ceiling of the Baker Middle School gymnasium Wednesday.
The Brooklyn students — 125 first-graders and 125 second-graders — traveled to 26 different stations in the gym to learn about topics ranging from condensation and evaporation to static electricity and a comparison of the Amazon rainforest and the desert of the Sinai Peninsula.
The static electricity station brought stories of how an older brother had used it to mess up his younger sister’s hairdo and other hair-raising experiences, said seventh-grader Kate Jesenko.
Sydnee Pierce, a second-grader in Ann Rowan’s second-grade class, told about what to expect after rubbing your feet on a trampoline and then reaching out to touch a friend.
“It will shock you!” she said.
The youngster’s stories were part of the day’s fun for Jesenko, who enjoyed the special project.
“I love little first- and second-graders,” she said.
Jesenko and her partner, seventh-grader Kaylee Burk used scraps of paper and Rice Krispies housed in a glass box to demonstrate the power of static electricity at their station. They showed the students how they could move the cereal without touching it through static electricity created when they rubbed a blanket over the glass box.
The elementary students were invited to the middle school as part of a project developed to enhance the elementary students’ science education, said BMS teacher Nicole Butler.
The program featured seventh- and eighth-graders in the middle school’s program for talented and gifted (TAG) students. The TAG classes are taught by Butler and teacher Chelsea Hurliman.
Butler said the idea for the project evolved from a discussion with Kathy Mitchell, a Brooklyn second-grade teacher, who asked if middle school students would be willing to teach science lessons to Brooklyn students.
“The idea branched out to having our TAG students create learning stations and invite the elementary classes for an afternoon of learning about science at BMS,” Butler said in an email to the Baker City Herald.
To prepare for Wednesday’s event, the middle schoolers were required to review first- and second-grade curriculum standards to ensure that their learning stations met those requirements, Butler said.
Each station included a poster display of the project, other supplemental materials and an eight-minute mini-science lab activity.
In addition to providing a hands-on science experience for BMS students and their visitors, Butler said the activity also is a great way for her students to explore whether they might enjoy a career in teaching.
“Our students were tired by the end of the day, but they sure did enjoy it,” Butler said, adding that she expects the program to continue again next year.