Lee sixth-graders prepare a lesson plan on weather -- to teach second-graders


LEE -- Sixth-graders at Lee Elementary School are getting ready to weather the task of teaching this week.

On Friday, the older students will be heading into the school's second-grade classes to teach the younger students about measuring and identifying the weather.

"It will be good so [the second-graders] can have a little head start on understanding weather," said sixth-grader Ben Harding.

Over the past month and a half, sixth-grade teacher Paula Duhon and her students have partnered with Dale Abrams, science education director for the New Marlborough-based Flying Cloud Institute through a new initiative called "Weather Finders and Watchers."

Lee Elementary School was awarded a $2,800 STARS (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) residency grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to run the program.

For an hour each Tuesday and Thursday, the sixth-graders have been working with Abrams and Duhon to learn to use weather instruments like barometers, anemometers (wind gauges), and thermometers. The students then learned to collect data from three weather stations set up around the school.

They've compared the weather conditions on the sheltered south side of the school with the often windswept west side, and the north side, which is typically 5 degrees colder or more.

"It's been good to go outside and learn how to read these things," class member Kenyatta Williams said. All the students in the class said they liked having an outside instructor working with their class.

In addition to collecting their own data, Abrams has shown students how to access an online database that's part of the national WeatherBug Schools Program, which allows student weather watchers to record and compare their data with information collected by students at other schools.

"Aside from just learning how to dress for the weather, they're learning a meaningful way to do math within the context of science," Abrams said.

"It's cool to be able to learn so much about the weather," said sixth-grade student Ashley Barnes.

"And then get to teach that to second-graders," her classmate Anna Wang said.

As a teacher, Duhon has been coaching students on the art of teaching, from learning how to use language and explanations that younger students can understand, to showing the sixth-graders how they can also create interactive presentations to make teaching more fun.

"You can't be complicated," sixth-grader Homer Winston said.

Through skits, maps, colorful posters and even a dance, the older kids will be teaching second-graders about reading temperature, monitoring solar energy, reading data, cloud formation and the water table, and how to use compasses and wind gauges to tell if a storm is coming.


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