Teachers Alisa Moyer and Kerry Douglas recently combined their classes at Colonial Elementary School (CES) for a special guest lecturer. "Professor Han" Jeong, a fifth grader in Mrs. Moyer's class, shared his research on the physics of catapults, led the students in building and testing their own devices and even gave the class a quiz at the end of the lesson.
"It was surprising because none of us knew he was going to teach us. We walked into the classroom, and Han's the teacher," said Azlyn Ortiz-Grossman, a fifth grade student at CES. "I think he did good. Maybe he'll be a teacher one day."
Understanding the physics of catapults
Han had taken a particular interest in the class's science unit on variables and took time outside of school to explore the topic more in depth. He approached Mrs. Moyer with the idea of presenting what he had learned to the class, and she made time at the end of the unit for him to share. During the lesson, the students learned that a newton is a unit of measurement and how the elasticity of the catapult affects the inertia of a projectile.
"The most exciting part was teaching my classmates, because I got to do stuff that I usually don't get to do," said Han. "The biggest challenge was the time it takes to prepare everything."
When asked how he learned all of the physics concepts he shared in the lesson, Han was clear about what it takes. "Reading, reading, reading, reading, watching videos, reading, reading, reading, researching, reading, reading," he said.
The success of the lesson
"I'm super proud of him, and it was really nice to see how serious he was," said Mrs. Moyer. "He put together a bag of supplies for each student, wrote an article for us to read, had handouts ready and tied it all into our variables unit and building a system."
The students in the class enjoyed having Han as their teacher and saw value in seeing their friend so excited and passionate about a topic.
"I think kids should do more of that. They should share things that they're good at so that other people might get into it," said fifth grader William Pereira. "It's a lot of fun when a student is actually teaching, because it takes a lot of bravery and it's really interesting to see them teach you things."
Han's hoping to do a second lesson with his friends later this year.