When you mix Duke education students and Durham middle school students looking for enrichment, there's going to be exploding trash cans, candle stick flames, elephant tooth paste and liquid nitrogen ice cream.
These are some of the activities Duke students in David Malone's educational psychology course and Amy Anderson's Foundations of Education course taught Lakewood Montessori Middle Schools students last week.
The week-long event, called Lakewood Exposure at Duke, had Lakewood students taking a few courses with Duke students, attending Durham Bulls game, visiting Duke's Lemur Center, and learning about chemistry.
Lakewood Montessori Middle School has been a member school in the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership since the school opened in 2010. David Stein, senior educational coordinator for Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership, helped bring both parties together.
"It's enriching for [the Lakewood students], and the Duke education students get to learn by working directly with middle school kids," Stein said. "It sort of sharpens you in terms of teaching approaches."
Tony Yan, a recent Duke graduate, was one of the Duke student volunteers. He said the program had a great impact on him. He wants to be a pediatric dentist but interacting with the Lake Montessori students sparked his interest in possibly pursing a teaching career.
"I could see the change that happened throughout the week," Yan said. "I remember I was eating lunch with the kids in the group, and one of the boys said going to class with Duke students is cool. Then he said I'm going to go here one day."
Gustavo Nunez, 12, who is in the seventh grade, said participating in the activities at Duke increased his liking for chemistry.
"I think that it's fun, just actually doing it," Gustavo said.
Lakewood Principal Sheldon Reynolds also participated in all activities with his students. He said he wanted to bring in a particular group of good students who usually "fly under the radar" of traditional academic enrichment programs. He also noticed a change in his students.
"It's way better than anything we set out to do," Reynolds said. "These kids are normally all quiet, but here you can see them all talking and all interacting together. Some of these kids I've been with for five years, and this is the most conversation I've had with them. To see them enjoying almost every piece and to be able to take something from that, that's great."
Reynolds and Duke officials said they hope that the program can extend into the upcoming school year.
"I love Duke," Reynolds said. "You can't beat the partnership we have with them, to have three professors around the table and to have the manpower to get this done and all for free."
Donald Aytch, 13, watches Ixchel Peralta, 11, as she holds a flamed candle stick. When the propane bubbles drop down on their candle it creates the flame. Photo by Jonathan Alexander.