Virginia fifth-grader’s textbook correction gets hat tip from publisher | US news

They called the television quizshow Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader for a reason, and a Virginia elementary school student has just reportedly reminded everyone of that after getting a publisher to acknowledge a mistake in his class’s science textbook.

Liam Squires, a fifth-grader at HM Pearson elementary school in a county less than 50 miles west of Washington DC, recently earned a write-up on the local Fauquier Times news website after noticing that his school’s Exploring Science All Around Us textbook had switched up the labels on pictures of an igneous rock and a sedimentary rock.

Squires told his teacher, Serena Porter, and at first she thought that perhaps she had taught her students incorrectly about the rocks. But, according to what the teacher told the Fauquier Times in an article published on 29 March, she checked the textbook page with the rocks’ pictures and realized her pupil was right.

“I reported it to Ms Porter and said, ‘I think I found an error,’” Liam told the news outlet. “It was the first going through the rock cycle, so it was kind of fresh knowing that information.”

For her part, after confirming that her student had a point, Porter said she told Liam: “Dude, I think you might have found an error.”

Porter said she notified her school’s instructional supervisor for science, who in turn contacted the textbook’s publisher, Five Ponds Press.

Five Ponds officials ultimately sent Liam a letter thanking him for “paying such close attention in class” and expressing their gratitude for his catching the mistake in the textbook, according to the Fauquier Times.

At least one study by California’s David and Lucile Packard Foundation has previously found that the most popular science textbooks used to teach science to US middle schoolers are replete with errors, irrelevant photographs as well as illustrations, and experiments that are impossible to conduct. However, it appears to be less common for students to spot mistakes in textbooks in a way that possibly prompts publishers to rectify those errors.

For many schoolchildren, such textbooks sometimes form impressions about certain topics that last a lifetime.

The superintendent of the Fauquier county’s public school district, David Jeck, approvingly mentioned Liam’s sharp-eyed reading in a 3 March video highlighting three recent things he encountered across his education system.

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“Hats off, Liam,” Jeck said in the video. “Great job.”

Porter said she’s been corrected herself a few times in class by Liam. “He’s easily one of the smartest students that I have,” Porter told the Fauquier Times. “He sees something that’s wrong or … not right … and he has no problem pointing it out.”

Nonetheless, both Porter and Liam described themselves as being equally surprised by the publisher’s letter.

“I expected … a pat on the shoulder,” Liam said to the Fauquier Times. “I did not expect it to be this.”

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