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OES fifth-graders talk IB



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Paige Miller tests out her recycled bottle lava lamp. (click for larger version)
April 17, 2013 - What exactly is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Exhibition? Five fifth-graders from Oxford Elementary gave the Oxford Leader some insight.

"Exhibition is a project that all the fifth graders do at the end of their Primary Years Program (K-5) for the International Baccalaureate program in our school," said student Maddie Cutler. "You get in a group of three to four kids and you research a topic that is important to you and you do a presentation on the topic and what you learned."

Cutler chose to study the topic of childhood obesity because she "thinks it's important for kids to stay healthy."

"With the growing technology it (obesity) is getting worse and worse over the years," she said. "We need to help fight that and get kids more active and eating better foods."

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Paige Miller chose environmental issues, specifically water pollution.

"I really care about the environment and I think if somebody doesn't take action now, it's just going to get worse," she said.

Alyssa Kessler also chose water pollution, with a emphasis on animals.

"I thought it was important and I didn't want animals all over the world dying due to it," Kessler said. "I want to keep our earth healthy and clean."

In her studies she also learned the effects of polluted water on humans.

"I found out a lot of people are getting sick with cancer and different things in different countries because of water pollution," she said. "They need water to survive and they're drinking dirty water."

Katie Perry took an environmental issue as well, emphasizing on recycling.

"I keep seeing more and more landfills everyday and when I did some of my research I realized it was going to end up taking over human populated areas and I don't want that to happen," she said. "I want us to have our space and I want our world to keep clean and healthy because when the world is polluted we can get sick too."

Being a sports guy and knowing people who have been injured, Sam Huller is researching "the life changing effects of sports injuries."

"I (learned that) through concussions you can get memory loss and a torn ACL, after multiple ACL tears you will probably never walk the same again."

Part of the exhibition is not only researching the topic, but taking action or causing others to take action on the given topic. For example Cutler gave a power point presentation to both students and teachers with games she created including various stretches and exercises. One of the teachers played the games with her students.

"That's what I think is good about exhibition – it can make kids feel they make an impact. If you learn (how to do) a math problem, it doesn't help your society that you know how to multiply fractions or something," Cutler said. "IB is a lot more world and society-based rather than just doing things that help yourself. It's (about) helping other people, too."

Kessler agreed.

"Some of the benefits you get off of IB Exhibition are that you're more knowledgeable to other topics and not just one thing," she said. "You get to learn about the world and be more open minded about things."

Perry said she took action on recycling by picking up litter around her neighborhood.

The next day I didn't see as much garbage and it didn't look as polluted," she said. "It makes you feel better that you're helping the earth."

Miller said she has taken to collecting water bottles around the school for recycling and making lava lamps out of them.

"I feel like each water bottle I collected was just one step towards the water not being polluted," she said. "I think it's (about) doing an action that seems little, (but it) might make a bigger impact than you think."

What do teachers think of IB Exhibition?

"This is our first year doing the exhibition, so it's been an educational experience for us as well, just seeing how this process is now flowing and how the kids are reacting to it, what our input should be versus how much they can put out too. It's been interesting," said Audrey Boris. "I do like the fact that the kids get to research something that they care about, then when they do care about it, they're probably going to do a better job with it."

Fellow Teacher Matt Robydek agreed.

"It's interesting to see the routes they take once they get going and the stuff they stumble upon and end up learning," added Robydek. "That's when the true learning occurs – when you have that inquiry-base and they're actually invested in what they want to learn about."

Likes and Dislikes?

"I like that we're able to do this kind of stuff, like exhibition. It expands our learning experiences, but I don't like that we're overloaded on stuff," Miller said. "I enjoy all of it but I feel like we're kind of pressured sometimes with all the work we have to do."

Cutler said a big part of exhibition is working in groups, which is where her dislike and frustration comes in.

"There are a lot of times you and your group mates don't have the same perspective on things and it's hard to get things done," she said. "(At the same time) it would be kind of stressful to have to do everything by yourself, but if you can just say 'can you please just do this and then I can get this done, it takes some pressure off because then you can have other people to count on.'"

While others agreed with Cutler, they all agreed that learning to work together in groups was a good thing.

"You're going to have to work in groups throughout your life," added Perry. "So you need to learn to work with other people besides just being independent."

Huller said he didn't like having "to do so much work for one little presentation."

Boris explained that the exhibition deadlines are broken down week by week.

"We're using this program called Haiku that all the kids can put their information on as well as look at step by step to see what they are expected to do, so they are never in the dark as far what their expectations are," she said. "It's very clear to them and it allows the mentors to look at what they're writing as far as their reflections and respond back to them, so they're getting outside help from teachers and parents as well."

Perry said having the project grouped into tasks by week makes it "hard and easy" at the same time.

"They group all the tasks into certain weeks, but I don't like that when we're pressured," she said. "It's hard to get stuff done because you're thinking I have to get this done."

Robydek said the students aren't the only ones feeling the pressure.

"The stress (the students are talking about) the teachers feel it too because there is a lot that we have to pack in because it is all setup on Haiku by week," he said. "That's our time table and if we don't finish it we are behind schedule."

"I don't think they're (the students) used to working this hard and being pushed this hard," added Robydek. "It's a lot of work and they feel under the pressure, (but) I think when it's all said and done they'll be proud of the work they did."

Exhibition presentations are scheduled to be shared on April 25 beginning at 6 p.m. at Oxford Elementary School. 

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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