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Moscow Charter School

MCS In The News

CSI lesson a 'tasty' experience for students

Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 10:11 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

By Katie Roenigk Daily News staff writer

Classes may have been canceled Thursday for professional development training in public schools throughout Idaho, but in Moscow's charter school the rooms were filled with students who were actively engaged in the learning process.

"This isn't a real school day; it's an academy day," fourth-grader Zeynep Ay said. "It's fun."

For the past year, Moscow Charter School has hosted a series of workshops to give students a place to go on in-service days. The classes last all day and are open to any child who signs up.

"I think we did eight (workshops) last year - we wound up doing a few more than expected," school board member Aria Arrizabalaga said. "People would come to me with an idea, and I couldn't turn them down."

Parent volunteers organize the lessons, which cover topics ranging from anatomy to Spanish. The Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute is planning to host an event in May, and Arrizabalaga said other ideas are "still in the works.

"The idea is for it to be a one-day, self-contained workshop on really any topic that would get a volunteer excited about presenting," Arrizabalaga said.

Thursday's teachers were Luke and Lisa Harmon, biology professors at the University of Idaho and parents to MCS first-grader Isaac Harmon, 6.

The Harmons chose to introduce their students to the world of forensic science, beginning with a lesson in finger printing that left the children with round, black marks on their hands.

They moved on to footprints later in the morning, with Lisa leading her class outside to stomp their boots in the mud and then on pieces of white paper. When the prints had dried, they attempted to determine which markings belonged to whose feet.

"We're acting like detectives!" Ay said as she compared her boot mark to the footprints of her friends.

The lessons were new for the students, but the day also provided a change of pace for the Harmons, who usually teach in front of a more mature audience.

"This is a little different," Lisa said. "But we think it's important for kids to have access to hands-on science they can learn from."

Forensic science is a good choice for children, Luke added.

"It's hands-on, and it's logical," he said.

Their next task provided another attraction for the class: candy. Lisa handed out pieces of taffy that she instructed the children to bite, but not eat.

"We're moving on to the last kind of marking you see at a crime scene - a bite mark," she said, passing out diagrams showing the 32 teeth in an adult human mouth.

The children removed their pieces of taffy to reveal bite-sized replicas of their teeth, which they began to examine as evidence.

"This tooth kind of has an indent," fourth-grader Kyle Clary observed, looking at his own piece of taffy. "And these four teeth are pointed in front."

Toby Jorgensen, also a fourth grade student, pointed out the unique aspects of his bite mark.

"These teeth have bumps," he said, pointing at his mouth. "So you can tell this one's mine by the pattern."

The exercise was fun, the boys agreed, and not just because it was interesting.

"It's tasty," third-grader Aengus Kennedy said, taffy in hand.

The afternoon was less appetizing, with Lisa planning a bone identification lesson using owl pellets. Luke took the younger kids on a detective walk, after which he tested their memories by asking them questions about their experience.

For more about future academy days at MCS, call the school at (208) 883-3195.

Moscow Charter School 1723 East F. Street Moscow, ID 83843 (208) 883-3195 fax (208) 892-3855 Attendance (208) 596-ILLS