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Meet the experts

Students become authorities in their field 

From snakes to famous people such as Tiger Woods and Simone Biles, there was a wide variety of topics at this year’s Expert Museum at Ada Elementary

Forest Hills — Second-grader Ian Putcha loves golf, so much so that he decided to become an expert on one of golf’s biggest stars, Tiger Woods.

Ian’s poster is peppered with information about Woods, such as he has some of the best records in golf, winning six masters, 82 PGA tournaments, 41 European tournaments, three Japanese tournaments and two Asian ones.

“He is a good golfer,” Ian said, adding that he has been playing the sport for two years and hopes to become as good as Woods.

Next to Ian’s display is second-grader Kai Justine Hughes, who has focused on Simone Biles since she loves gymnastics. 

“She is a really great gymnast and I wanted to learn about her,” Kai said. “She is the best in the world and by doing this project, I feel like I got to learn more about her.”

Ian and Kai were among the 62 “experts” who were part of Ada Elementary’s Expert Museum. The second-grade experts had spent several weeks researching a topic of their choosing, putting together the information they learned into a poster, and preparing to present their information to parents, staff and other students during the hour-long event.

“This is part of our nonfiction reading unit,” said teacher Kristin LaSage. “We purposely leave the topic open so students can choose what they are interested in.”

Second-grader Ali Zielaskowski said she picked becoming an expert about the moon because she is interested in space, while Hope Gonzalez said she picked the Philippines because her mother is from there.  

Projects were placed in one of four areas based on their topics: “Animals in the Sea, Reptiles, and Things That Fly”; “Land Animals and Pets”; “All About Space”; and “Famous People, Places, Sports, Natural Disasters and Volcanoes.”

The research project touches on the four C’s of education: critical thinking as students research; collaborating as some students partnered on projects; communicating as students needed to be able to talk about their research topic; and creativity as they designed posters and gathered items for their displays.

Alden Roof and Cameron Prince worked together to become experts on snakes.

“I decided to study snakes because they are my favorite animal,” said Alden. “They are my favorite animal because my dad is scared of them.”

Classmate Henry Harrison could relay a lot of interesting facts about the Amazon River and the rainforest.

“The Amazon River runs right through the rainforest, almost splitting the rainforest in half,” Henry said. “There are 12,505 species that live in the rainforest such as the sloth. … I don’t know what this is (as he pointed to an orangutan-like stuffed animal) and alligators.”

Read more from Forest Hills: 
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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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