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Students learn to teach

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Most of the advice the third grade teachers gave for teaching lessons to their students wasn’t too surprising: model enthusiasm for the subject, make sure all students are included and set a good example.

But Sami Arnst, a Lincoln Elementary School teacher, also warned kids that age can create a surprising amount of drama.

They watch those shows on the Disney Channel and think that’s how they’re supposed to treat each other, she said, so they try to do that.

Arnst and other third grade teachers were speaking to a group of high school students as part of a three-day training designed to help the students run science lessons on field trips for third-grade classrooms at Lincoln and Garfield elementary schools this school year. The workshop, which was put on by the Institute for Applied Ecology, Greenbelt Land Trust and the Marys River Watershed Council, trained 11 high school students through the program that wrapped up Friday.

Stacy Moore, with IAE’s ecological education program, said the high school students will run stations at field trips the organizations put on at Greenbelt’s Bald Hill Farm property and help out in classroom science activities. Moore said the effort to involve high school students, who are mostly bilingual in Spanish and English, is a continuation of the Bald Hill field trips the organizations put on last school year, but with more emphasis on having lessons in Spanish.

Moore said the program is funded by a grant of about $36,000, funds which also help support the Environmental Leadership for Youth 4-H program. Students who complete the training and then teach three times will get a $150 stipend.

“It’s beneficial for both the high school students, because they really have to learn the science to teach it, and the third graders, because they really look up to the high school students,” said Moore.

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The elementary schools involved this year are Corvallis School District’s two Spanish and English dual immersion schools. In addition to getting training on working with younger students, the high school students learned to operate stations for the future field trips, like water quality testing and macroinvertebrate sampling.

One of the stations will also focus on migratory birds in the area: the great blue heron, rufous hummingbird and black throated gray warbler. These birds migrate to Mexico, so the organizations plan to partner with a school in Guanajuato, Mexico, to have third-grade students share observations and artwork of the birds.

Kathleen Westly, education and restoration project manager for the watershed council, said the enthusiasm the high school students have for science can inspire the younger students.

“By doing lessons in Spanish you are telling them these careers and fields are for Spanish speakers,” she said.

Arnst said her biggest hope for the high school students is that they realize what an impact they can have on her students.

“The kids really look up to them as heroes,” she said.

Ella Rose, who will be a Corvallis High senior when school starts, said the teaching lessons had helped her think more about how difficult it can be to find the right words to explain a complex idea.

Rose, who wants to study biology in college and then get a graduate degree in marine biology, said she hopes she can help the younger students understand how the environment impacts them.

“I am passionate about science and educating the next generation about how it’s important to take care of the earth and the environment, and hopefully help inspire some of them.”

Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.


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