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Albin, Burns High students learn from each other


Jimmie Earls/Pine Bluffs Post

From left, Albin Elementary School first-graders Shakira Serrano, Vanessa Mendoza, Sutter Allen and Hansell Solis placed first in the marshmallow challenge put on by Burns High School students on Nov. 24 as part of Albin's science day. Teams were given 18 minutes to construct a tower from uncooked spaghetti, a piece of string and tape that would support a marshmallow.

Learning from a science textbook is par for the course in elementary school, but when you gain practical, real-world experience in a lab setting with older peers as your instructors, then the textbook suddenly comes to life and learning takes on a new perspective.

Just ask the Albin Elementary School students who got a visit from some Burns Jr/Sr High School students on Nov. 24 as part of Science Day at AES.

"My favorite part was the marshmallow challenge," said sixth-grader Jackson Kirkbride. "We were put into teams of three and they gave us four pieces of uncooked spaghetti, a piece of string, a piece of tape the same length as the string and a marshmallow. We had 18 minutes to build a tower that would support the marshmallow, and the team that could build the highest tower was the winner."

Unfortunately, Kirkbride's team didn't win, but they still gained valuable experience from the challenge.

"Our tower kept falling, but it taught us how to come up with other solutions to problems and make it work, even if it doesn't work the first time," Kirkbride said.

AES science teacher Tad Romsa said the point was to teach the students different ways of arriving at a solution.

"This teaches them critical thinking skills that they can use throughout the rest of their lives," he said. "If it doesn't work one way, then try something else. Maybe someone else in the group can think of something that the others haven't thought of. So this teaches them how to think and work as a team and come up with a solution."

Taking first place in the marshmallow challenge were first-graders Shakira Serrano, Vanessa Mendoza, Sutter Allen and Hansell Solis.

Other demonstrations involved resistance, pressure and motion.

Anabela Whitehead, also a sixth-grader, thought it was interesting to see how science affects our everyday lives.

"It was fun to see how objects are affected by resistance. There was one part where we threw eggs against the wall, and they would break because the energy was spread out over a hard surface without a lot of space. But when you throw the egg against a cloth sheet, the air behind the sheet absorbs the energy and doesn't break the egg until the egg falls to the floor. Then it breaks."

Romsa continued, "It's one thing to teach these principles in a classroom, but when you see practical demonstrations of how these rules apply, then it hits home in the minds of the students. They actually see it in front of their own eyes and it registers."

The Burns High School students involved in Science Day were Jas Singh, Brandyn Banville, Jace Sharp, Marissa Shook, Lauren Streeter, Kayla Nesvik, Katie Norris and Meghan Murphy, accompanied by BHS teacher Eric Allen and Junior High teacher Anna Farrell.

Albin Elementary Principal Dr. LeAnn Smith said it was an overall great experience for everyone involved.

"I am proud of our teachers for making an extra effort, and working hard to provide Albin students with 21st-century learning. Additionally, we are grateful to Mr. Allen, Ms. Farrell and the Burns students in facilitating our science enrichment day. Students who have opportunities to receive enrichment and acceleration have increased success in short and long term school performance. Additionally, students retain new learning at higher rates when the learning is presented at each child's readiness level. At Albin, we are working hard to provide both enrichment and individual learning paths. We look forward to this mixed methods approach continuing to increase student levels of achievement over time."


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