Elementary School Students Learn Science from Future Teachers

By Erin Delmore

With Earth Day just around the corner, third-graders from Paterson School 12 are learning about science, nature and the environment from future elementary school teachers.

“We’re students working with students but we kind of get into the hang of becoming teachers. It takes a little while, but the kids automatically see us and they think we’re adults right away. They’re fine and they are ready to learn,” said William Paterson University senior Lianna Palladino.

Seniors from William Paterson University’s College of Education developed lesson plans and set up interactive booths in the university’s dining hall on topics like water pollution and planting.

“Our station personally is recycling. We’re learning about upcycling and reusing plastic. Over here we’re doing earthquakes and natural disasters,” Palladino said.

Third-grader Keila Almonte explained what she learned about earthquakes: “More of them are in California because of the plates underground, which if they touch each other will make a big earthquake.”

Students built models of buildings. Then, teachers shook the table to see how well they held up.

How did Almonte’s building do? “It was good. It was really sturdy,” she said.

“I like the ecosystems because it’s really fun. We got to plant our own seeds,” said third-grader Sania Mayo.

The event is part of a 10-year partnership between the university and Paterson School 12. Educators Julie Rosenthal and Anissa Martin Conyers expanded a literacy workshop to forge into the sciences. Now, the students — old and young — join together for a science fair and an election fair, too.

“William Paterson University and Paterson Public Schools have a partnership where we place our interns, graduates of our programs, work in our schools. It’s part of our professional development schools network where we often also have a professor in residence at the different schools,” Rosenthal said.

“It’s a great partnership. It brings in the practical but also the hands-on and the research all together. It works out very well. The students are benefiting, the candidates are benefiting, myself as a teacher of 20 years is benefiting from it and I know Dr. Rosenthal is also benefiting. So it’s a win-win situation,” Conyers said.

“So it’s a continuation. It’s partially us teaching, it’s partly bringing the kids to do hands-on experiments, and it’s also giving back to the community because what we’re doing is we’re planting a vegetable garden at Paterson School 12 that the community has access to. So we’re giving back and we’re learning with the kids as well,” said William Paterson University senior Arielle Testa.

This event is part of a year-round partnership between the university and the school. In fact, students will head over to work with the elementary schoolers on cleaning up the community garden and a month later, they’ll take the seedlings they planted today and plant them in the garden to grow over the summer.