Second-grader Sabasthian Deleon-Perez, 7, stood at a table in front of his classmates as "Mr. Sabasthian," teacher and scientist — for the day, anyway. He was demonstrating the properties of magnets.
Sabasthian's teacher at Winding Waters K-8 School, Josephine Maher, suggested he invite one of his visitors, who had come by to see his teaching debut, to assist him. His aunt Aida Perez remained seated while his grandmother Carmen Rodriquez-Candelario, joined him.
He sprinkled iron filings into a pan of sand.
"They look like hair from a haircut," he explained, "but it's not."
Then he showed his classmates how the iron bits can be pulled from the sand using a magnet.
Each student in Maher's class will have the same opportunity as Sabasthian — to be Star Student of the week, including being the science teacher at the end of the week.
"They will become a scientist, dress in a special lab coat, goggles and gloves, and share a fun experiment with the class," Maher said. "They learn so much more from observing rather than from a book."
Sabasthian demonstrated how magnets can repel and attract each other. He showed his classmates materials that magnets attract and some they do not.
He said being the science teacher is "great because we (get) to teach (our) star buddies. I showed them about magnets. They can pull up magnet stuff."
The idea behind the weekly lessons is to help students practice social skills and acquire confidence. Sabasthian had to choose his topic and write a scientific method, a lesson plan of sorts.
Noah Ladd, 7, picked up a thing or two from his classmate.
"There's a north and south pole, and magnets stick to anything made of metal," Noah said.
Emma Caldero, 7, observed that "magnets aren't just magnets — the things that can stick to the refrigerator."