After scrambling for more volunteers and a driver, we got last minute sign-ups who saved the day! Marisol, a neurology graduate student whom I have previously met, Yuyou, an Environmental Science undergraduate from China, and I (Jessica), a Microbiology graduate student, made this week’s team. We drove from Davis to Lower Lake around 7am where we got to know each other. Since Marisol and Yuyou were new to the KiDS program and last minute sign-ups, we also went over the lesson plan.
Upon arriving and checking in, we go to the first classroom. After our introductions, we get an earthquake drill and a fire drill! Participating in these drills really made us appreciate how teachers have so many responsibilities that come with the job; not only do they have to teach students with so much energy, but also keep them safe in dangerous situations. After the drills, we return to the classroom.
They quickly regain their focus on us where I talked about plant anatomy (leaves, stem and roots), what plants need to grow (sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide) and photosynthesis (the output of the growth requirements). Surprisingly, some of the students already knew about photosynthesis. To be honest, I don’t really remember what I did in the 5th grade so it may not be a surprise that they know.
Now, it was time to measure the plants. I demonstrated how to stake and tie their plants for support and how to measure them. To many students’ surprise, we used CENTIMETERS! This was a good way to teach students about how we need to have a common “language” in science so that anyone can understand their measurements. This portion of the lesson was really the more hectic part. I couldn’t have imagined only two people doing this. There are so many supplies to hand out and also many students who needed help. Fortunately, I had Marisol and Yuyou who did a fantastic job helping the students!
We finished with 15 minutes left so it was question box time! We pulled some questions where we talked about hybrid citrus, difference between male and female snakes and other animals (in the sense of patterns and size!), and how to say “I like science” in Chinese. With that, we were done with our first classroom :).
After our 15 minute snack break, we go to the second classroom. This time, Marisol takes over teaching the plant anatomy and photosynthesis. I demonstrated staking and measuring the plants. Marisol performed quite well for teaching this lesson. I felt that Marisol and Yuyou felt a lot more comfortable which was great! We also had some spare time where the students asked us questions. This time, it revolved around Marisol’s field of study, BRAINS! There were A LOT of question about the size of brains, freezing brains, being grossed out by brains and various other brain questions. As we were leaving , a student approached us to deliver a message to the KiDS coordinator, Allie. A sneak peak revealed that it was an adorable panda! With that, we head back home, but then I realized that we forgot to check-out. I called the school to let them know that we were out of the premises. All is well.
Overall, it was a fun lesson and the kids showed to be extremely appreciative and interested in their experiment. I will admit that it is tiring (for someone who is not a morning person), but completely worth it.
Until next time!