Upper School Students Become Teachers to their Little Siblings

Everyone in the Parker community has heard the phrase “Parker is a Model Home.” This phrase comes alive whenever you see Parker parents and guardians volunteering their time, when two grades collaborate on a project or, in one of the most obvious examples, when Big Siblings in the senior class spend time with their Little Siblings. This last example takes place throughout the year with Big Siblings spending time with their younger counterparts in activities like reading together or playing on the playground. However, students in George Austin’s science elective, Astronomy, Modern Physics and Philosophy, wanted to take advantage of the easing of COVID regulations to bring back an event that focuses on teaching these youngest students.

Seniors Kathryn Allen-Study and Lorenzo Collier have been studying stars and constellation positions with Austin, as well as the associated myths from various cultures around the world, and invited their Little Siblings in Elizabeth Joebgen’s 1st grade class and Kristyn McCullom’s 3rd grade class to learn from them. Allen-Study and Collier chose a constellation and worked on preparing their presentation. “I tell my students that they should NOT dumb down the sophisticated information they are learning for the younger folks,” Austin noted. “Instead, they need to smarten up the presentation to incorporate demos, videos and interactive ways to help the younger folks learn the information.”

With that piece of information, the seniors welcomed the young students to a presentation filled with information, physical models and a special inflatable planetarium. Allen-Study and Collier explained facts about stars and the constellation positions, discussed how scientists measure the distance to stars in a process called Parallax and provided insight into stellar evolution and deep sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. There was even an inflatable planetarium students could enter that allowed them to see the location and formation of the stars and constellations as they would appear in the evenings at this time of year in Chicago.

These two days of presentations were a great success! “When my own students are able to do all this, they end up learning and remembering the information much better,” Austin explained. “And the younger folks will also have lasting memories of having been in the Upper School and learning US information from their older sibs.” As a special treat, Allen-Study shared that, as a 2nd grader in 2012, she visited the Upper School science classes to hear these presentations as the Little Sib! This event truly has come full circle for her.

At Parker, the community is extremely fortunate to have all 14 grades under one roof for events like this that give Upper School and Lower School students the opportunity to interact in a variety of ways. And Parker is very proud of these Upper School students for preparing such an informative and interactive event to hopefully spark scientific curiosity in these young minds.

Click here for photos.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.