Learning through Languages

Giovanna Solorzano, left, and Camden Hutchinson stand beside their project on the Uganda water crisis. 

CHAPEL HILL – Two students from Aubrey Straub’s Spanish 4 class at Lincoln Charter School earned the Student’s Choice Award at the fourth annual Learning through Languages Research Competition at UNC-Chapel Hill Feb. 1.

“I received an email from the Department of Public Instruction letting foreign-language teachers know about this opportunity,” Straub said. “I presented it to my students last year as an opportunity for Spanish 4 to use the language that we’re learning instead of the usual grammar and vocab that we do every day. What interested them was not only the opportunity to present in our target language, but also the opportunity to practice research skills by focusing on topics that were of interest to them.”

The students, Camden Hutchinson and Giovanna Solorzano, did their project on the water crisis in the east Africa nation of Uganda.

“These two girls participate in a club on campus called ‘Leadership,’ and for the past several years they’ve been spearheading water conservation efforts and the Water Walk, which is something that we do at our school each March,” Straub said. “They had spent a lot of time reading about the water crisis in Africa through this club, so that’s where the idea came from.”

After presenting their work in Spanish to professors from UNC and Duke University, Hutchinson and Solorzano were put through a question-and-answer session led by the professors. The girls also set up a booth to present their work to the other students at the symposium and ultimately earned the Student’s Choice Award, voted on by their peers.

“I think that because these girls have a multiple-year connection to this topic and they’re very passionate about it, that passion stood out while presenting to their peers,” Straub said. “I’m extremely proud of them for the work that they did and the effort they put into this project.”

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