STEM for Children in Canal District

Posted by Ealan Jiang on February 1, 2016 at 1:25 AM


The last two weeks we talked mainly about an infectious disease, Ebola, to a class of 5th graders and another class of third and fourth graders. We first started with the most common disease, flu, asking them what flu is and how could we prevent flu in our daily lives. Later, we asked them "what is Ebola?" To my surprise, most of the fourth and fifth graders knew the basics about Ebola. Then we taught them that Ebola does not spread like colds or the flu because it does not float through the air. Ebola also doesn’t spread through food or water, like smoother viruses. Instead, Ebola spreads when someone touches the body fluids of a sick person. But we also assuaged their fear by reassuring them that Ebola is rare and does not spread easily. The most important thing they need to do, in order to prevent this type of infectious disease, is to wash their hands well and often.

For those classes we used different styles of teaching formats targeted to the different age groups. For the fifth graders, we spoke in front of the whole class asking them questions and demonstrating experiments. Worried that this way of teaching might cause some students to not pay attention, we changed our approach by introducing the concepts to groups of three to four children. This method turned out to make them stay focused. Yet, this two methods seemed not to be comparative because we applied them to different groups. We found there was a huge difference between two groups. Even though the fifth graders were one year older than the others, they knew much more than third and fourth graders. Fifth graders were really attentive and they understood what we were talking about. And the third and fourth graders knew little. In the future, we cannot speak the same way to both groups. We need to teach in a more fun way to the younger kids while providing more formal lessons to the fifth graders.

--Vicky Lin and Ealan Jiang

Categories: STEM, Volunteer Work, News

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