By Maddy Vitale
The cycle of water, photosynthesis, the relationship between bees and flowers, DNA, ecology and the evolution of history, seem like pretty complex topics, especially for first grade students.
But Ocean City Primary School first graders seemed to ace the biology lessons Monday, given by 24 seniors in the Ocean City High School Advanced Placement biology course.
Laughter, fun and a lot of hands-on instruction, kept young minds engaged in the first, of what high school AP biology teacher Catherine Georges hopes to be many more lessons melding the two age groups, to bring another level of learning in the district.
Called Bio Buddies, the first graders were taught in 10-minute scaled-down college level lessons at the Primary School, 550 West Ave.
Georges explained that her AP biology students took the AP exam May 14. Part of the exam was to take what they learned and apply it. The perfect way, she said, was to teach other students what they had learned.
First grade teacher Carrie Merritt’s students seemed to really enjoy the lessons.
Like Merritt, some of the first grade teachers said their students were very attentive to the high school student-teachers, especially since they look up to the seniors.
“I think it is a great experience for the young students and the high school students. We have talked about water, the ecosystem and plant life,” Merritt said. “I think the high school students really bring another level of engagement.”
Seth Pierson looked as if he had been teaching for years as he walked around the table where a group of students were seated. He was busy teaching them about evolution in Jennifer Eget’s first grade class.
Pierson watched as students pasted animals in spots on their papers.
“Some of the students get it faster than others, but all of them are doing a good job solving problems,” Pierson said.
Maggie Wallace, Aspen Lawlor and Jessica Yeats, got into their lesson plan. Their energy appeared to be contagious. They were teaching the students about the cycle of water using a Smartboard and pictures of various forms of precipitation.
One student said her favorite picture was of a monkey who found cover under a tree in the rain. The students laughed.
“We take a lesson Miss Georges taught us and visuals and tighten the lesson plan and teach the kids. It really is fun to do in a group,” said Wallace, who wants to study something to do with medicine when she attends Indiana University in the fall. “Biology is a great basis for medicine.”
Other high school students taught about the anatomy and cells. There was also a demonstration with a dog, for the topic Animal Form Fits Function, that the students seemed to love.
Student Scarlett O’Such raised her hand several times when learning about plant life. She joked, “Why am I the only one raising my hand?”
The next question by her student teachers led to three of Scarlett’s classmates raising their hands to answer the question.
Georges said she hopes to do Bio Buddies again next year.
“Since this was the first year we will work out some things and do it even better next year,” she noted.
She said Primary School Principal Cathleen Smith and High School Principal Matt Jamison have been very supportive of Bio Buddies.