Pupils from Hogsett Elementary School received a visit Tuesday from Centre College students who were there to help each of the third-graders build a personal terrarium out of peanut butter jars.
Using proper methods of placing rocks, soil and water in the terraria, the children added a single plant to the environment. By closing the lid, they contained the water cycle, which is the path water takes from the sky to ground and back up, inside the jar. The pupils will be able to see this cycle take place.
For Abigail Anderson, the idea of a cloud forming inside was “really cool.”
“It’s not textbook,” Kate Wintuska, Centre College senior, said.
She added giving the pupils a hands-on experience helps science become real to the third-graders.
Donna Plummer, a professor of education at Centre, planned the visit to Hogsett, which she felt also would give her education students a more realistic learning experience.
“I’m always thinking about what my students can do for the teachers to provide a more authentic experience for Centre students as future teachers,” Plummer said.
Amanda Addison, a teacher of one of the classes the future educators visited, was an intern under Plummer when she first became a teacher. Kentucky law requires all first-year teachers to complete a one-year internship, where they work under the guidance and observation of a committee consisting of those from the college level and their superiors in order to become certified. Since then, the two have kept in touch, enabling Plummer and Addison, as well as fellow third-grade teacher Jennifer Martin, to partner up on this project.
Addison and Martin both enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Centre students. Martin believes allowing the Centre students to visit is a great way to give the children hands-on opportunities they might not otherwise have.
“(The Centre students) always have lots of energy,” Martin said. “There’s no substitute for (the children) doing it.”
She added these types of activities bring the textbook to life in a whole new way. Martin plans to have the children leave their terraria at the school so they will be able to discuss the process.
The college students appreciated the learning experience, and believed it holds a great level of importance in the learning experience of the third-graders.
“It’s important to get out there and help kids see what science really is,” Elizabeth Donelan, Centre College senior, said.
Giving the children this excitement gets them excited about science and about the importance of the natural world, she added.
For the third-graders, it allowed them to become scientists, even for a short while. They started a journal and were shown how to document and observe the terraria, enabling them to see the changes that take place inside the jar.
To Melissa Smith, Centre College senior, this project also teaches the children about responsibility.
“It’s important for them to see that they can take care of something,” Smith said.
For many of the Centre students enrolled in the Science Methods course, this is the last semester before they begin student teaching. It is comprised of mostly seniors, with some sophomores and juniors mixed in.