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When students teach children about the life cycle and breathing

For several years, the Biological Engineering Department has participated in the ASTEP program (Accompagnement en Science et en Technologie à l'Ecole Primaire), which puts students in contact with primary school classes to update and revitalize the teaching of science from an early age.

This spring, it was at the La Sèbe school in Digne-les-Bains that a group of students introduced children to the life cycle of insects: the example chosen was that of the flour worm, an insect that is easy to raise, observe and study. With the help of the teacher, the students designed two lessons around a farm that the children were able to watch evolve over several months to follow the growth and development of the mealworms and to hypothesize about their future. By observing the larvae brought to class, the students were able to discover that mealworms do not produce butterflies, but beetles! This was also an opportunity to learn about food chains and the classification of living things. These hypotheses led to an origami workshop to learn how to make different insects out of paper.

Another group worked with students from the same school on the theme of breathing in two sessions based on activities and small experiments: measuring the breathing rate before and after an effort, and observing a model of lungs. In each session, the students formulated an oral or drawing hypothesis on the given problem. At the end of each session, the children had a blank text and sometimes diagrams to fill in so that they could keep a written record.

This project is very enriching for all its actors, it allows the children to discover science while having fun and the teachers to have concrete science lessons with a scientific approach: problematic, hypothesis, experiments and conclusion. Indeed, school teachers do not always have the skills to conduct such sessions due to lack of training. As for the students, this project taught them how to popularize science with a communication adapted to primary school children.

Article written by Pauline Bernard, Enola Bouvenot and Alice Cornu

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