Lake Forest students have science encounter
Alec Boyd, 11, and Laiken Roth, 7, record weather conditions at Elawa Farm Friday morning. Fifth-graders from Deer Path Middle School and second-graders from Everett Elementary joined for a science field trip. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 27, 2012 12:26PM
LAKE FOREST — It took less than a minute from the time they opened their bug catcher to grab a hopping grasshopper and carefully seal it inside.
Everett School second-grader Colin Burton held the entrapped insect aloft to show science teacher Lynn Frank.
“We got a grasshopper,” Burton smiled.
“That’s great,” Frank told Burton. “Now get working on your drawing.”
Burton scrambled back to the field backpack he shared with his fifth-grade buddy to get started. Jai Williams of Deer Path Middle School already had pulled out the assignment sheets, clipboards and colored pencils the two would share to complete their scientific drawings of their find.
Burton and Williams were among a group of second- and fifth-graders paired up to work as citizen scientists at Elawa Farm in Lake Forest Friday morning in a program aptly called “Elawa Buddies.” The 3-year-old initiative partners the two grades in a field extension of their in-class work. Both are studying insects in science.
On the annual trip, the students spent about 30 minutes at three different stations looking for evidence of insects, observing habitat and creating a scientific drawing of the insect they caught.
At the habitat station, fifth-grader Alec Boyd pointed out to his buddy a sole milkweed bud in a field of other plants.
“See that little hole,” Boyd said of a pin-sized dot on the bud. “That indicates that something’s been in there.”
Second-grader Laiken Roth nodded and took the pod, tucking it in the field pack to show his teacher later.
Boyd remembers going to Elawa with a high school buddy when he was Roth’s age and was glad to be the older student this time around.
“We’re helping the second-graders learn about their environment,” Boyd said.
That sharing aspect is why the buddy program was first developed, said Areta Kohout, one of two parent coordinators of the program. “Fifth-graders are a great resource for the second-graders to help them understand,” she said.
The same students she saw as fifth-graders Friday attended the program three years ago as second-graders.
This time around, they were naming parts of bugs for the second-graders and pointing out habitat and other evidence of insect life as they traipsed side-by-side through the open prairie.
“It’s so much more engaging for the second-graders,” Kohout said.