State College

Student teachers spearhead elementary class projects

Corl Street Elementary fourth-graders Avery Myers, left and Yazen Baabdullah talk about their project Wednesday at Corl Street Elementary.
Corl Street Elementary fourth-graders Avery Myers, left and Yazen Baabdullah talk about their project Wednesday at Corl Street Elementary. psheehan@centredaily.com

Nearly every Corl Street Elementary School fourth-grade student enthusiastically yelled “yes” when asked if they enjoyed a several-week-long social studies and science project.

A Native American and Nutrition museum held Wednesday afternoon in teacher Donna Kondash’s room was the finale to the project that allowed students to learn about history and health.

It was a combined assignment for 36 students in Kondash’s and counterpart Rich Schmidt’s classes, but spearheaded by student teachers from Lock Haven University.

Social studies, science projects showcased in class museum that was open to public

Students selected to work on the social studies project learned the history of Native Americans and about where they lived that included five regions — the northwest, southwest, Great Plains, and the northeast and southeast woodlands.

“A lot of us were given a region to study, but I asked to do a project on the region (northeast woodland) where I lived,” student Sophia Reutzel said. “I just thought it was cool to learn about stuff where we live.”

She made a diorama of how the Indians of her region used food supply, transportation, shelter and the environment as a means of life.

Students involved in the science project were split among groups who studied different parts of food sources and ingredients in the food.

The project coincided with a science lesson about starches, food labels, fats, online resources for good nutrition tips, and what foods contain water.

I like that we’re able to learn about stuff in class, and see how it is outside of class when we eat something or read a food label.

Fiona Hathaway, fourth-grade student

“I like that we’re able to learn about stuff in class, and see how it is outside of class when we eat something or read a food label,” student Fiona Hathaway said.

They then, like the social studies group, opened up their work to the public in a museum that showcased their final projects. It included parents of students; other teachers, faculty and staff; school administration; and at least one school board member.

Classmate Asher Cunningham teamed up with another student to educate people about starches.

Using iodine, he was able to put a few drops of the element in a sample of milk, and a cookie. The darker the food turned, the more starch was in the substance.

The cookie turned nearly a black color, while the iodine in the milk was a reddish color as it floated at the top of the liquid.

But while the project counted toward a grade for the students, it was also an equally important lesson for the student teachers who administered the project.

Project spearheaded by two student teachers from Lock Haven University

Billie Heverly, who is studying early childhood and special education, said as a student teacher, she is required to spend time in a classroom and organize five lessons.

For the nutrition unit, she said she actually arranged about 10 lessons.

It was similar to the social studies program project structured by student teacher Sara Billman, who’s also studying early childhood and special education.

“It was a great way to bring what we learned in class to help students work together, but at the same time allow them to individually take charge in different areas of what they learned,” Billman said. “It was really a student-run project, and one that they really seemed to enjoy.”

She was right.

When asked, almost every student used the word “love,” “cool” and “it was awesome,” to describe the project.

Those part of the science experiments said they like learning about nutrition the most, while a majority of students in the social studies group said they liked participating in the hands-on part of the project the best.

The student teachers’ last day is Thursday.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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