Monday, December 10, 2012

Randolph students teach science at local elementary school

A group of fifth graders leaned over their tables and listened to Treasa Bryant ’13. She held up one of the petri dishes the students had started experimenting with the day before and pointed out how bacteria had grown on the dish overnight.

Maddy Carmain ’13 teaches fifth-grade students about micro-
organisms at Dearington Elementary School in Lynchburg.
“Are they eating now?” one student asked.

“Yes, they are eating now, like this,” Bryant said, drawing smiles from the students by mimicking chomping sounds.

In another classroom a few feet away, another elementary student asked Maddy Carmain ’13 numerous questions about microbiology. “What was the first bacteria on earth?” he asked.

“I don’t think scientists know,” Carmain answered.

Fifth graders at Dearington Elementary School in Lynchburg learned about the microscopic world last week with the help of Randolph College students like Bryant and Carmain.

“I saw some natural-born teachers emerge,” said Lisa Stewart, a teacher at Dearington. “My kids have understood everything they said, and every student is engaged.”

Adam Houlihan, a Randolph biology professor, brings his microbiology students to the school once each year. On the first day, the Randolph students taught the fifth graders about bacteria and showed them how to collect bacterial samples from their environment. On the second day of the project, the students analyzed the amount of bacteria that had grown.

Sergio Rodriguez ’14 points out bacteria for a Dearington Elementary student.
The hands-on lesson helped the elementary students picture themselves working in science later on. “We had one student yesterday saying, ‘This makes me want to be a doctor,’” said Tawanda Johnson ’90, an alumna who now teaches science at Dearington.

Johnson was happy to see Randolph students helping younger students gain an interest in science. “Randolph was where I first got motivated to go into science,” Johnson said. “It’s good to see them still sending scientists out into the field.”

The annual project was featured on a news segment by WSET, a Lynchburg-based ABC Affiliate, Monday morning. Watch the report here:

For more pictures of the project, browse this Facebook photo album.