Fifth Graders Participate in Film School for Global Scientists

Through a partnership with the University of Arizona College of Education, our fifth grade students spent the fall semester participating in “Film School for Global Scientists: Teaching Students to Make Meaning in MultiModal Ways.” In conjunction with The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, students studied water across the curriculum and then filmed and edited movies about water. Some of the movies are produced in Spanish, some in English, and some in combinations of Spanish, English, French, and Mandarin.

The project combined hands-on science with related topics of geography, as well as foundational writing skills and second language vocabulary development. Ultimately, it touched on all of the 6Cs.

In their science classes, students conducted experiments to discover properties of cohesion and adhesion, as well as dissolving abilities. They extended their understanding of such unique properties to appreciate why it is important for life, and the variety of roles in the water cycle. In history, students connected water topics to their study of geography and discussed where water is found, its historic use and its relationships to societies and civilizations. In English class, fifth graders storyboarded their ideas for their movies, and those who take Spanish learned water vocabulary and adapted their storyboards into Spanish. Students who do not take Spanish either made their movies in English, or mixed English with the languages they are studying: French and Mandarin.

“Setting up the film and translating it into Spanish was the hardest thing (about the project),” Chance Gose ‘27 said.

“And learning how to use iMovie,” Alastair Campbell ‘27 added.

“The project combined hands-on science with related topics of geography, as well as foundational writing skills and second language vocabulary development. Ultimately, it touched on all of the 6Cs,” fifth grade teacher Jennifer DeBenedetti said. For example, students collaborated with their filmmaking teams to choose a topic and location, create a storyboard, film, and edit. They had to think critically about what they were learning, how to present it in film, and, if applicable, how to present it in another language. Students honed their communication skills not only in working with their filmmaking team but in interviewing Gregory School staff, faculty, and students as well as outside experts for their movies. Students who were apprehensive about interviewing staff members at the start of filming, finished having conducted several successful interviews!

“It really surprised me how much water we use,” Jordan Loutfy ‘27 said. “We underestimate.”

“Yes!” Ansley Kim ‘27 agreed. “We use so much water and we don’t even know it.”

“We also learned that Lake Mead water levels are dropping,” Jordan said. “That is a big problem.”

The fifth grade kicked off the project at RoadHouse Cinemas, where they watched the film Beyond the Mirage. Some teams filmed their movies at Sweetwater Wetlands and the Santa Cruz Heritage Project site, while others chose to film at school. 

The fifth grade will have a red carpet roll-out of the films in January! Stay tuned for the date and time.


3231 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone: (520) 327-6395
Fax: (520) 327-8276
The Gregory School is an independent, private,
non-profit 501(C)(3), coed day school for grades 5-12.