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Students take on the role of science teachers

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

There’s a new wave at Ecker Hill International Middle School: heat waves, light waves, and sound waves.

Jamie Duis’ sixth-graders participated in an energy expo fair on Monday. The students hosted third-grade visitors from Jeremy Ranch Elementary School to look at the different projects.

The fair is the culmination of a two-month unit on heat, light and sound. Duis told her students to make their projects look like a science museum exhibit, and behave as though the JRES students were their patrons. Many of the enterprising sixth-graders brought props and had colorful tri-fold posters.

Kiley Morgan titled her project "Jingle Bells." It examined why sound cannot travel in a vacuum. While a group of curious third-graders watched, she shook a jar that had a bell taped to the lid. On the first demonstration they could hear it, but after burning bits of small bits of paper inside the jar the sound had virtually disappeared.

"I thought it seemed interesting that if you light a fire in a jar you can’t hear a bell ring," she said.

Kiley dedicated one-hour every day for a week to researching her project and creating a presentation.

"It was fun, and it is fun right now showing the kids because they seem interested," she said.

Duis said all of her students were excited to take on the roll of teacher.

"It helps my kids feel a sense of pride," she said.

Kara Hendrickson, a third-grade teacher at JRES said that much of what the students were presenting built on basic concepts the elementary students were already familiar with.

"This is third-grade curriculum," Hendrickson said, adding that being introduced to these subjects now helps them build a platform for understanding more complex areas of heat, light and sound when they will be brought up later in their education.

Tanner Gulbrandsen’s project demonstrated the way light waves are used in communication devices. He had two cellular phones and a mock satellite to show how waves travel from a phone, to a satellite and down to another phone.

"People need to know that it’s not like fairy magic," he said of light waves.

The project proved to be a challenge for him.

"It was really hard. I learned a lot," he said, noting that before starting the project he didn’t know how wireless communication worked.

Sarah Eckstein’s exhibit was titled, "Disappearing Glass Rods."

She had observed that a glass vial filled with cooking oil disappeared when it was immersed in the same oil.

"The oil and the glass have the same refraction index," she explained, which is why the vial disappears.

Sarah enjoyed working on the assignment because it related to what she had been learning in Duis’ class.

The project also related to the International Baccalaureate program. Each student had to examine how it related to the way humans influence their surroundings, also known as "homo faber."

"It’s really about understanding how human creativity changes lives," Duis said.


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