IGNITE Fall 2018 - Page 10

Their Final Project: Explain It to a Six-Year-Old To prove they’ve mastered the material, these seniors are returning to first grade. Every high school teacher has a go-to lesson plan for combatting senioritis: Some raise the stakes with a large-scale final project. Others load a movie to engage relaxed students. But for some seniors at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, creating a lesson plan is the assignment. The project is called Science is Fun. Its goal? Explain complex environmental and health issues in a science fair, just a few weeks before graduation. And the audience? The first graders of Nativity of Our Lord Grade School, also in Warminster. “I saw the need for a more dynamic activity. I wanted students to have something meaningful they could remember, so they could look back on this event to recall what they learned.” This interaction between younger and older students creates a memorable exchange of ideas. Elementary students get excited to see new concepts applied in real life. And the graduates-to-be are challenged to research and showcase their favorite topics in a new light. “To teach the lessons to elementary students, we needed to have a deeper understanding of the materials — and a more creative approach,” says Kate Horan, a 2017 Archbishop Wood graduate who presented a lesson on lungs. “We took it seriously because we were responsible for teaching the kids what we were doing.” Science is Fun began as a collaboration between first grade Nativity of Our Lord teacher Mary Beth Conricode and Archbishop Wood teacher Bridget McLaughlin, who teaches honors biology and environmental science. “I saw the need for a more dynamic activity at the end of the year, where students could apply the concepts they were interested in,” McLaughlin says. “I wanted them to have something meaningful they could remember, so they could look back on this event to recall what they learned.” In that regard, the program has been a success. McLaughlin reports that the novelty of filling the teacher’s shoes — along with the freedom of choosing their own topics — motivates students to produce some of their best work. Each group of seniors must delegate tasks, write a central “take- home message,” prepare presentation materials, and tie the lesson 10