• Feb. 14, 2019

    Seventh graders host Germ Symposium

    Germ Symposium The winter months bring cold and flu season along with reminders to wash your hands to stop the spread of germs. To mark this special time of year, seventh graders at Fort Couch Middle School hosted a Germ Symposium Feb. 12-14, 2019, to share their knowledge of germs with the district’s fourth grade students.

    Fort Couch first held its Germ Symposium five years ago but only included nearby Eisenhower Elementary students. In its return this year, the event expanded to include fourth graders from all three Upper St. Clair Elementary schools – Baker, Eisenhower and Streams. Each school’s fourth grade spent one morning at the middle school learning about germs.   

    Seventh graders are learning about bacteria in their science curriculum.

    “For our seventh graders, it relates to our cell unit on bacteria and prokaryotic cells,” Patrick Corr, seventh grade science teacher, said. “This also has a large focus our MYP global contexts and learner profiles. The students will spend the next science class reflecting on these goals.”

    The Fort Couch students led the fourth graders through several different hands-on learning activities that provided information about different viruses and bacteria, the spread of germs, how germs affect the body, diseases that are caused by bacteria and viruses and how we can prevent germs from spreading.

    In addition to fourth graders gaining knowledge of germs and germ transmission, Mr. Corr hopes that the Germ Symposium strengthened ties between and among the schools as well as provided an opportunity for seventh graders to play a leadership role within their school. 

    “These types of activities are important because they help to build leadership skills and create relationships within the community,” Mr. Corr said. “It also allows students to learn from a different perspective than they normally would.”

    For the fourth-grade teachers, it’s an interesting day as their current students gain knowledge from their former students. The benefits for both groups of students are readily apparent.

    “Our elementary students get a chance to learn about viruses, bacteria and illness and get to do some STEM related activities that allow for creativity that enhances their learning,” Christopher George, Eisenhower Elementary fourth grade teacher, said. “It’s also great to see the seventh graders have the opportunity to share their knowledge at the end of their unit and to take on leadership roles.”

    In addition to the leadership provided by the seventh-grade students, this year’s Germ Symposium was supported by Fort Couch’s seventh grade science teachers including Mr. Corr, Jen Cramer and Mike Barringer.