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Class is in session

North Dallas community serves as science lab for residents’ grandson

Created date

May 21st, 2014
grandson and grandmother in greenhouse
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Nine-year-old David Scherm is a familiar face around Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas where his grandparents live.

“Everybody knows me,” says David. “Coming to Highland Springs is one of the best parts of my week.”

The homeschooled fourth-grade student spends every Thursday with his grandparents, George and Dennie Lindsey, learning about science.

“This is David’s first year to be homeschooled,” says Dennie, who taught middle-school science for six years. “Since George and I both have a background in science, our daughter asked if we would teach David’s science curriculum this year.”

Hands-on learning

It isn’t the first time that Dennie and George, a retired biology professor, have integrated hands-on learning experiences into time spent with their grandchildren, including David and his two younger brothers Keifer and Charlie.

“George and I lived in Becker, southeast of Dallas, before we moved to Highland Springs in October 2012,” says Dennie. “When David was in the second grade, he came over after school to complete projects with George using simple machines, including a pulley, a screw, a lever, a wedge, an inclined plane, and a wheel and axle.”

Now that David has a full day to devote to science, his grandparents enjoy taking advantage of all the North Dallas community has to offer.

“We began the school year with a study of plants,” says Dennie. “David and I put lima beans in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel. As they sprouted and began to grow, we potted them and put them in the greenhouse. Then we moved them to our garden here at Highland Springs.”

Dennie and David also planted radishes and crocuses alongside the lima beans.

“Rabbits ate my radishes,” says David ruefully, “but it was fun to watch the lima beans grow.”

Space to spread out

“One of the benefits of living at Highland Springs is that we can spread out and use all the different spaces,” says Dennie. “Besides the greenhouse and the gardens, we also go to the computer lab to look up science websites on the Internet.”

When David is ready for a break, he enjoys lunch with his grandparents in the Cotton Belt Café, where his favorite meals are macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, grilled chicken, and baked ziti.  

“I usually have ice cream for dessert,” he says. 

After lunch, David plays the piano in the café. He says he takes requests, as long as they’re limited to “The Entertainer,” “Star Wars,” and “Do-Re-Me.”

“Residents go out of their way to talk to David,” says Dennie. “They make him feel special. That’s one of the great things about Highland Springs. Grandchildren are welcome anytime, and there’s so much for them to do here.”

New experiences

David practices his swimming strokes in the community’s indoor pool, where he might sneak in a cannonball or two. He’s joined card games of spades and hearts. And he’s improved his score in Wii bowling, thanks to resident Darleen Springer, who regularly bowls perfect games.

“I like to play Wii bowling with Miss Darleen,” says David. “She’s taught me some of her tricks. My top score is 275.”

When it’s time to return to his science studies, David knows that even work can be fun. For his current study of astronomy, he’s building a model of the solar system with “Pops” and “Grammie.”

David was also recently asked to share his model of an animal cell and a plant cell on the community’s in-house television program Howdy Highland Springs.

Life lessons

Deedra Scherm, David’s mom, couldn’t be happier with the experiences her son is having at Highland Springs.

“My parents have a strong academic background they’re passing on to David, and it’s also a bonding time for them,” she says. “Both are tremendously valuable.”

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