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Students blend science, arts in Walnut SMart Fair
Sixth grade students of Walnut Elementary School explain the basics of wind energy to kindergarten and first grade students at the SMart Fair on Tuesday.

While elementary students are used to receiving instruction, the tables turned for some sixth graders at Walnut Elementary on Wednesday as they delivered lesson plans to fellow students as part of the school’s inaugural “SMart Fair.”

The SMart Fair, the acronymic first word indicating the melding of science, math and art subjects, allowed the eldest students at Walnut Elementary to teach science based curriculum with an artistic component to the kindergarten through fifth grade. On Monday and Tuesday stations covered the lawns of Walnut Elementary as younger students rotated between stations that were manned by sixth graders teaching their unique lessons. From understanding prisms and the basics of color refraction to entering into a mock space capsule, each station was an opportunity to learn scientific information in a fun and creative way.

Walnut is a magnet school which allows parents to place their children in the Discovery, or science based learning side, or Renaissance which is focalized in the arts. Conceived of by the sixth grade teaching team of Lisa Adams, Danielle Silveira, Jamie Garner and Denise Loomis, the SMart Fair facilitated a cross-magnet partnership that served to not only enrich the educational experience for the sixth grade students who were teaching, but for the entire school.

"This was a way for us to unify the magnets. Being sixth graders, this was an illuminating activity for them to experience before they enter junior high school and the upper grades so now they have a creative way to learn and teach," said Silvera. “The younger students have absolutely loved it too.”

To prepare for the SMart Fair, sixth grade students spent a month researching sixth grade science based curriculum topics, finding references, developing outlines, creating rough drafts, bibliographies and more. The students were split up into groups of four with two students representing each of the magnets and together the four students created a lesson plan on a focused scientific topic and included a creative component such as a game, a song or a dance to help their pupils remember the information. Their lessons were crafted to cater towards the age group they were teaching as the younger students were divided into rotational groups of kindergarten and first graders, second and third graders and fourth and fifth graders.

"These students developed objects, wrote scripts, designed their stations, visualized the props and costumes they would need and made it happen. It's really quite impressive," said Loomis.

The interactive approach to learning, which had students of all ages squealing in delight as volcanoes erupted, jets launched, and songs about aerodynamics were sung, allowed students to not only digest new information in a hands-on manner, but practice life skills such as leadership and collaboration.

"It's been really fun because we've done a lot of presentations before but this is the first time we've actually taught other students," said sixth-grader Andrea Dunn.