Last week I arrived at Evergreen Elementary to do my bit as a reading mentor for Communities In Schools of Peninsula only to learn that, thanks to a threateningly possible snowstorm, the session had been canceled. Only I and one other mentor didn’t receive the cancellation advisory.
All was not lost! Evergreen fifth grade teacher Jordan Henderson, CISP’s coordinator for the school, arrived on scene with a gaggle of kids from grades kindergarten through fifth needing to await transportation — among them my mentee, third-grader Grant Kirkpatrick — and invited me to join their impromptu science class. How could I possibly demure?
Starting indoors at the CISP mentoring area, Henderson engaged his spontaneously-assembled class in a study of time. He explained how in very ancient history, no one conceived of time in terms other than day time and night time. Eventually, realizing a need for more specifics, they came up with the 12 hour concept. He asked the kids how many joints they have in their fingers and got a variety of answers, which evolved to “four fingers, three joints each, equals 12,” the derivation of the dictum of our current time pieces.
I was reminded of Muhammad Ali’s oft repeated, “I didn’t know that!”
Second-grader Mason Mclean confidently noted, “I learned about how the first clock was made.”
We then proceeded outdoors to the quite chilly upper field, where, thanks to the snow clouds and consequent lack of direct sunshine, Henderson and an adult assistant with the light from her iPod demonstrated to the kids how light casting a shadow off an upright stick on the face of a paper plate, forming a sundial, provided a means of telling time accurately.
Fifth-grader Joseph Carlson was pleased to say, “I learned you can use the sun to tell time.”
To Grant Kirkpatrick, “Telling time with light is really cool!” First-grader Sivaun Smith was thrilled to learn “you can use light to tell time.”
And kindergartener Conor Pasley proudly said, “I learned that when there is light and dark they make shadows that can tell time!”
“The purpose of this lesson was to get the kids to reason with and come up with a plausible explanation for how we tell time,” Henderson said. “We ended up going outside and using a paper sundial to see if we could tell what time it was.”
Without sunshine it was tough. However, our kids will never forget the concept, and I’ll bet the area will display a plethora of sundials when old Sol reappears.
Teacher Jordan Henderson can be reached at 253-530-1359.
For information on helping to assure that our kids remain in school and graduate on time, please call 253-884-5733 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for Communities In Schools of Peninsula, and ask for information on our mentoring program. As a longtime member of the CISP Board and a mentor, I can assure you you’ll be welcomed to this very rewarding program.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.