Student stargazers

Duncombe Elementary students took a trip to the stars Tuesday. Through words.

Fort Dodge Senior High astronomy class students made children’s books to read to Duncombe’s second-grade students. The elementary students learned about the universe, its bodies and its constellations, even why Pluto is no longer classified as a planet.

The FDSH students had already visited Duncombe earlier in the trimester as part of the class project.

“We came over once early in the trimester to just read nonfiction books to them, to kind of get a sense for the level they needed to write their books at and to meet the children,” Hope Brown, FDSH astronomy teacher, said. “Over the course of the trimester they wrote them as they did their research and learned about different things in class. Today, they are reading their original books to the second graders. “

Two sessions were held, each with 20 Senior High students. The elementary students sat in groups of four and five to be read to from decorated and illustrated books. The senior high students then switched to another group of Duncombe students.

While a few senior high students were nervous about presenting their books, their younger audiences were excited, Brown said.

“Some of the students actually went to school in this building, so it’s like coming home,” she said. “The second graders are just excited the big kids are here and they’re spending time with them. I’m guessing a lot of them don’t have that older brothers or sisters. It’s just nice to have that relationship even if it’s just for this amount of time.”

Susan Brueschke, Butler Elementary teacher, said the special visit enhanced the science unit for her second-graders.

“We have some units in science. In second grade we study matter: solid, liquids and gases. We also do a weather unit and we alternate with a social studies unit we do to,” she said. “Those are the two big units for science in second grade.”

Brueschke said the visit was exciting.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the younger kids to see what the older kids are doing,” she said. “They’re good role models for the younger kids to be able to look up to and see what they’re learning about. It gives our kids an idea of what to look forward to in the future.”

The elementary students were eager to learn about the topic from their older peers, Brueschke said.

“Students always seem to like science. They love especially when we do hands on things in science, like experiments,” she said. “I have lots of inquisitive students who love to ask questions so it’s a good opportunity for them to learn from older kids.”

Astronomy is an important subject, according to Brown.

“All sciences are important,” she said. “It’s all around you. The last unit we talked about was constellations, and a number of the students said they had gone out and looked up in the sky and found the north star by looking at Ursa Major and finding Polaris.”

Many topics are discussed in the senior high course, Brown said.

“We touch on a number of scientific laws,” she said. “There’s quite a bit of math in astronomy. We talked about the law of universal gravitation, we talked about galaxies, the big bang theory, the planets and the solar system, the phases of the moon. We cover a lot of different things that aren’t included in physics, chemistry. The things you want to learn about.”