FLINTON — On Friday, fourth grade students from Glendale Elementary School had an opportunity to participate in three hands-on experiments taught by students from the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, Pleasant Gap.
Three classes participated in three labs –soil, seeds and tasting.
They also had a chance to demonstrate what they learned for U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-15, who visited the school.
Thompson said he was excited to visit the school and learn what the students have been collaborating on. He said he is on the House Agriculture Committee and is a proponent of career and technology education so he was thrilled to see the two components work together.
The event was coordinated by fourth grade instructor Becky Link and CPI teacher Joe Luther as the culmination of some virtual collaborative lessons between Link’s class and Luther’s horticulture and landscaping students.
“Joe Luther and his students from CPI connected with my fourth graders using Google Meet,” Link said. “They have been working together throughout the school year teaching various science topics that he specializes in. Friday, CPI students traveled to Glendale Elementary School to assist with three lab experiences for students in-person. The focus of the labs will be soil texture and composition, seed germination and trees, and a tasting experience with locally-sourced maple syrup and lettuce from CPI’s greenhouse.”
Link and Luther collaborated after meeting at the school district’s open house. Luther’s son is in Link’s class. “We began talking at open house about possible resources he and his students could provide my students,” she explained.
After September, both groups of students began meeting periodically with Luther and his students who presented a lesson and participated in a questions and answer session with the Glendale students.
Link said the collaboration has cleared pathways for future partnerships with CPI and possibly other schools. “There are huge possibilities here, meeting both the Pennsylvania science standards for my students and also preparing CPI students for their National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) testing. In addition, the state requires school students to complete career exploration each year, starting with elementary school. This is a great way to expose my students to options for their future. We hope that the idea of partnering elementary classrooms with career centers/vo-tech schools will catch on as there seem to be many advantages in doing this.”
Luther said allowing his students to lead the lessons with Link’s fourth graders also helped them prepare for their NOCTI testing.
“My senior students take the NOCTI exam, and we usually must review the material in which I teach in ninth and 10th grade. To help them prepare, my students created labs to help remember the basic skills that are needed and teach those to the fourth grade students. One of the best things that came from the pandemic was the use of technology, and my students can use Zoom or Google Meet to teach the fourth grade students. My students can join their classroom without ever leaving our class at Pleasant Gap. My students got an actual solid review for their exam through teaching the next generation, and the fourth graders got hands-on learning activities.”
Luther said the instruction from his students to Glendale students helped to bring life to the curriculum. “Mrs. Link zoomed into one of CPI’s faculty meetings and talked to our staff about the impact she is seeing from her students through doing these activities and also said they are reinforcing what she is teaching from a textbook. It is converting textbook lessons to real-life situations and scenarios. CPI and Glendale are planning on taking this concept to other schools and conferences to spread the word about this project. I could see this project developing into a new concept where you bring career and technology education into public elementary schools not only for exposure to the career and technology education world but to help to develop the skill sets that we so desperately need in America today,” he explained.
“We are thrilled and honored that Mr. Luther has shown so much interest in bringing science to life here at Glendale Elementary School,” said Elementary Principal Kate Bacher. “We are proud of the collaboration between CPI and our staff to help our students advance their knowledge and interests in hands-on science and how it can help students not only understand the world they live in but lead to an exciting and rewarding career.”