Students learn by teaching

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Before Tuesday afternoon, the word "electricity" meant one thing to Tucker Sanford.

"If you rub a balloon on your head, it can stick to it," said Tucker, a first-grader at Strawberry Park Elementary School. He then vigorously demonstrated the technique by rubbing a bright yellow balloon on his head and shouting in laughter.

Along with other Strawberry Park first-graders, Tucker might know a few more things about electricity now.

Eighth-graders from Steam--boat Springs Middle School walked across the parking lot Tuesday to teach what they have been learning in science class to first-graders. With hands-on lessons taught in small groups, the big kids taught the little kids about magnets, electric circuits, static, conductivity and, of course, balloons.

"This is kind of a pilot program," said middle school science teacher Brad Kindred, who organized the event along with Strawberry Park teachers. "If it works, we'll try it again in a few weeks."

It looks like another try could be in order.

"This is called a series circuit," eighth-grader Alex How--ard said to a table of first-graders as he showed them an apparatus of charged wires that, when connected properly, turned on a small bulb.

"It works just like a light switch," Alex said.

A small hand shot into the air.

"I want to try it!" first-grader Palmer Porteus said excitedly.

First-grade teacher Jenny Krentz said she thought the lessons were a great idea and gave her students a new outlook on learning.

"Young kids often think they can only learn from teachers," Krentz said. "But they can learn from anyone in any situation."

Kindred said his students spent time tailoring their lessons to a young age group, focusing on easy concepts that could be learned quickly.

After the lessons, eighth-graders wrote down observations about what went well and what they could have done better, Kindred said.

"The idea is to hear it, see it, do it and teach it," Kindred said about the process that he hoped would teach his students as much as the first-graders.

Kindred said he hoped to extend the teaching program to more of his students.

"We have a pool of about 180 potential eighth-grade teachers," he said. "We'd like to use them."

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or email mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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