French Middle School Teacher Elisabeth Lepert could not have picked a more beautiful day in March for her 6th Grade science class to visit the garden on Cowper Campus. As the sun shone on the grass and garden, the French Program 6th Graders and Kindergarteners worked together on a unique collaborative science project, exploring flower and plant growth.
The project grew out of a 6th Grade science unit on plant reproduction. Before Winter Break, students left potatoes in jars of water, and watched as they sprouted buds and roots, an example of asexual reproduction. By the spring, the potatoes were ready to plant, to produce yet more potatoes, and the garden on Cowper provided the perfect place for them to grow.
Elisabeth contacted the French Kindergarten teachers to see if they would like to collaborate with the 6th Graders. The Kindergarten teachers, Cynthia, Delphine, Helena, and Anne, were all enthusiastic about the idea. In addition to the planting, the 6th Graders also planned to teach the Kindergarteners about the structure of a flower, something they had studied earlier in the year.
When they traveled to Cowper, the middle schoolers brought fresh lilies along with them, in addition to their sprouting potatoes. They dissected the blooms in small groups with the Kindergarteners, to explain the different parts that make up a flower. Outside in the garden, they taught the Kindergarteners about how potatoes grow, and planted the potatoes in the garden plot.
The project proved enjoyable and beneficial for both sides. The 6th Graders had the opportunity to take on the role of teacher, which helped students understand plant reproduction in greater depth. The middle schoolers discovered they had to truly know the material to be able to explain it to others. The Kindergarteners, on the other hand, got to learn about plants through a hands-on experience, and they were all very excited to meet and interact with the “big kids.”
Teaching the Kindergarteners proved to be a memorable and educational experience for the Middle Schoolers. Cyprien B. says, “It was fun to plant and work with people smaller than us, and see how they think and respond to us.”
Leyla G. explains that while teaching, “Even though [the Kindergarteners] would drift off sometimes, we would make sure to capture their interest a second time…We never ran out of patience, and it was fun teaching them new things and telling them interesting facts.”
Céliane A. adds, “It was fun being with them and seeing them participate. We acted like teachers and got to teach, so it was a new experience. I hope they learned a lot and enjoyed the activity as much as we did.”
Elisabeth agrees that the experience was a great success. “I saw smiles on everyone’s faces, and students were very enthusiastic and focused on teaching. I would definitely love to collaborate more with Cowper Campus in the future.”