Learning need not be something only handed down: it is very effective when handed across. When kids teach themselves and then pass that knowledge to their peers, everyone benefits. This is one of the primary approaches behind the innovative Kids Science News productions. Aggie Sung, producer of Princeton Community TV’s Education Roundtable, is one of the creators of a 26-week series of 30-minute news programs. Each show is anchored and reported by children between 4th and 9th grade and is geared to an equally young audience.
Sung believes that science is the vehicle to implement the solutions to our world’s problems. “This approach allows the children to do more than just talk about something that directly affects them. They become grounded in the practicalities,” says Sung.
“The children immerse themselves in various topics, learning as much as they can to become familiar with the issues. Armed with this foundation, they then conduct interviews with professionals in the field; scientists who are the leaders in their discipline who want to give future generations knowledge. These in-depth interviews are as probing as any by network news anchors. Learning critical thinking, developing questions, and interviewing are just a few of the valuable life skills gained from working on their projects.”
“The kids are assessed at various points along the way, both verbally and written, before they go on camera. The assessments are subtle and all types of learning skills are accommodated. This way everyone has the same chance to participate,” Sung emphasizes.
This approach requires children to actively search for information and data and then make sense of the materials collected. Sung points out, “The children are taught the nuts and bolts of journalism and how to create news pieces based upon a specific topic, but the young interviewers are allowed the freedom to choose their own perspective and to form their own thesis.”
Numerous local organizations have enthusiastically partnered with the series. The Cambridge School, a private school for children with language-based learning differences, has endorsed the effort wholeheartedly. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County partnered with Kids Science News and supports the approach that will provide experience in researching, writing, interviewing, and production. Last year the Princeton Family YMCA summer camp supported the pilot program in conjunction with Princeton Community Television. Going forward, Sung aims to reach bilingual children by expanding into a bilingual program.
“Learning comes in many forms and can be shared in different ways. Children can become effective communicators and innovative thinkers. We hope to expand this approach to other disciplines,” Sung says. “Discovering something new is exciting and children thrive on sharing their discoveries.”
Kids Science News, www.kidssciencenews.org.