My first reaction when beginning the lesson/project at Myers Park Elementary School was, “Wow, I think fifth graders are getting younger!” I didn’t think about how I may just be getting older, no, it has to be the other way around. But, other than that, I was also surprised to see different groups go in and out of different classrooms, because years ago when I was in the fifth grade we only changed classrooms for English and Math. It was interesting to see a room designated for science like the way I remember Art and Music.
When we started showing the clips, I was pleased to see most of the kids focused and watching. Most of them were answering their questions between clips. And I thought it was funny that they wanted to see more when the clips were over. I’ve watched these clips so much that I didn’t even think of them kind of being cliffhangers, especially the one with The Core because there is so much build up in the scene, but no big actions really happen in the clip.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant when we broke into groups. The teacher already had to talk to the class about being disruptive, and I really didn’t want a misbehaving group. But, when we did get our groups, I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently I have been around college and high school kids too long, because I was surprised how excited the kids were to answer our questions. One of the kids was even swatting the other’s hand away so we would call on him instead. We had to just go around the table so as not to play favorites with any of them. As for their answers, two out of four of them thought that a refrigerator would protect them against a nuclear explosion, but they couldn’t answer as to why. All but one of them thought nuclear testing existed. The one who thought it wasn’t true was confused about the area being empty of people, and she thought people would get hurt if the tests existed.
Unlike a lot of their answers, the group was unanimous about the information about the core in The Core. None of them really commented about the magnetic fields mentioned, but one especially attentive student gave the best answer I heard. He said, “Movies are mostly not true.” That’s pretty much the whole point of our class in a very simplified nutshell.
Another gem in the discussion was when one boy said that he thought the truck in Dante’s Peak wouldn’t survive crossing the lava because the gas tank would have exploded. I don’t think I would have known that in the fifth grade. None of the students thought the truck would have been able to cross, and they brought up the tires burning off and the car melting. Their knowledge of volcanoes was a little thin, but I think they overall had some pretty educated answers. I think my favorite was one of the kid’s answers about what he thought was unrealistic in the Dante’s Peak clip, and he shouted, “No one died! Why did no one die? I wanted to see someone die!” Interest in death and violence on screen; sounds like the general public.