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New Rochelle Elementary Students Tackle Complex Concepts/Issues

Exhibits by third, fourth and fifth graders at Columbus Elementary explored recycling, constellations and Native Americans.

As if the fact that Columbus Elementary School students designed and built a convention-type exhibition hall wasn't enough, the third, fourth and fifth graders filled the booths with information about Native Americans, constellations and recycling.

Third graders occupied a Native American dwelling with exhibits and activities while many of the students were decked out in Native American garb.

Fourth graders had tables set up for naming constellations, walls festooned with different star configurations and a mini-planetarium with stars projected onto the gymnasium wall.

Fifth graders researched and showcased recycling solutions.

Principal Dr. Yigal Joseph said every student involved with the exhibit had to be able to act as docents showing visitors around the hall.

Mauricio Esquivel, 9, took a visitor around the constellations exhibits. His class, lead by teacher Antionette Koehler,  had to learn the names and configurations of constellations as well as learn the mythology behind the names.

He said it was interesting to know the way people looked at the stars and how they conceived them.

"It's like doing connect the dots," Esquivel said. "You can do any description you want."

The class of fifth grade teacher Melissa Pomerantz had a display about recycling that showed the various stages of the recycling process and what materials can and cannot be reused.

Paola Garcia, 10, said her class browsed the Internet to read about what kinds of plastics can be recycled.

"Oil is very limited," she said. "We have to recycle, or else. When oil is finished we won't be able to make plastics anymore."

Garcia explained that plastics all contain a number indicating how they are manufactured. 

"If plastic is over seven, it can't be recycled," she said.

Mark Hegenauer, who teaches English as a second language, was monitoring one booth where students were playing a recyling-related board game complete with oversize dice.

He said he helped some of the students prepare their presentations making sure their writing was clear. He also helped set up the booths.

Hegenauer said there were a lot of concepts and learning experiences going on for the students, from the design of the exhibit hall to the exhibits themselves, whether they realized it or not.

"They just see it as fun," he said.

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