What happens when middle schoolers and younger children are put together to learn about science?
The answer is tons of fun.
The Washington students, all eight graders taught by science teacher Laura Colon, helped small groups of kids build a tower out of plastic cups in a colorful room as Beethoven's Fifth Symphony provided backgroud music.
The younger group of 4-to-6 year olds had 10 cups, tape, paper and large popsicle sticks to build a tower. Washington student Kaitlin Murphy helped lead the younger children intersting creations, which were mostly smaller towers.
"When you work with little kids, you are more leading and doing than guiding them," said Murphy, who wants to be an elementary teacher. "I try to be enthusiastic and fun with them to keep their attention. I make sure they have a good time while being creative. One of my students wanted to make a really long tower with water coming up from it."
One builder in particular had a blast as Zachary Shultis of Clarendon Hills showed off his impressive tower for pictures.
"I was connecting them with the cups and I wanted it to be tall," said Shultis, 5, who came with his brother Nick, 10.
The same supplies with the addition of scissors, five additional cups and smaller popsicle sticks were used by the 7-to-10 year olds.
The school-aged kids made tall towers, with some having pyramid type structures and others being enormous skyscrapers. Washington student Maddie Hinkle, volunteering to teach for the first time, said she wanted to engage her students.
"First of all, I want them to feel comfortable with me and have them feel that they could do whatever they want, to express their ideas," said Hinkle, who also wants to become a teacher. "I also give them pointers about the physics of what we are doing."
Fellow classmate Joe Gorski said he enjoyed teaching the kids, especially since his group made the tallest tower measuring 261 centimeters in the air.
"It's really fun to work with kids, especially since they are learning all this new information and they are just figuring out the world around them," Gorski said. "It's fun to help them figure stuff out for them."
The program held Friday was the second Science For Kids By Kids event, which started in January. The first time, Colon's students had rockets propelled by Alka Seltzer tablets fly everywhere. Colon said kids stayed the whole two hours and it was a hit.
"The cups are a lot less messy than the rockets," Muphry said.
Colon, who has been involve with the Children's Museum for 12 years, said she wanted her children to be more active with their learning than just having presentations.
"My students wouldn't stop talking about all the opportunities they had in interacting with the kids," Colon said about the first event. "Some of them want to become teachers, so it's a great chance for them to see what it's like. The Museum is across the street and it would be a shame not to fully utilize it."
Washington principal Bob Ross said District 203 charges the school to make students self-directed learners, collaborative workers, complex thinkers, quality producers and community servers. Having something like Science For Kids By Kids allows his students the perfect opportunity to give back.
"Each of those qualities are on show right now," Ross said. "The school district wants junior high students to learn about community service so they could be the next generation of little league coaches, girls scout leaders."
The event will be held from 5-7 p.m. every third Friday of the month. Next month, there will be a project with parachutes.
The good news for Colon is all her students eagerly want to help out again.
"I will definitely help again," Gorski said. "She is a great teacher. I love hanging out with her and the Children's Museum is so close to Washington that it's hard not to help."