BUENA PARK : College Class Exhibits Fascinate Children

With their hands covering their ears, the children screamed in fascination over Matt Sibrel's miniature volcanic explosion.

"That was bad," said Richard Esquivel, 12. "Bad as in good."

Richard and about 200 other fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Buena Terra Elementary participated in 20 10-minute geology lessons Thursday given by Cypress College students who presented the exhibit as part of a class project.

Topics ranging from fossils to minerals and plate tectonics were discussed, and live demonstrations were performed by the 32 college students who chose to do the project over writing an essay.

The college students are enrolled in Dorothy L. Stout's geology classes.

Stout said she has made the projects a part of her class since she began teaching at Cypress 20 years ago. Her students put on the shows at elementary schools throughout Orange County.

"This is the most important thing I do in my classes, because it benefits the little kids and it also is invaluable for my students," Stout said.

Josette Arellano, 23, spent a month and about $50 preparing for the event.

"I made shield, composite and cinder-cone volcanoes out of plaster of Paris to help me explain--on the kids' level--the different types of volcanoes," Arellano said.

Children swarmed around Arellano as she showed them how the cinder-cone volcano erupts. She told the wide-eyed youngsters that cinder-cone volcanoes are found in desert areas.

"That's awesome," said Ashley Hughes, 11.

Andrew Suarez, 10, raced to the plastic pool where Carmin Elieff, 33, was giving a lesson on gold panning. He quickly rolled up his sleeves, leaned over the pool and began panning as Elieff told of the Gold Rush era and showed pictures of miners.

"I struck it rich," Andrew yelled holding up three nuggets. "I'm pretending that I'm a gold rusher. I'm experiencing history and science."

Elieff found the project to be a valuable lesson for her. "I was really surprised to see how excited the kids were," she said. "I'd do it again, because children should be taught more about science in school. They like it."

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