Skip to main content

South Jordan Journal

Science, culture merge with Chinese tradition for Eastlake Elementary sixth-graders

Nov 15, 2021 03:23PM ● By Julie Slama

Eastlake dual immersion teacher EE Wen Ting holds the Chinese lantern with students before it was released on a teether as part of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hot air will rise when heated gases expand. 

Eastlake sixth-graders got a hands-on lesson in learning how its density decreases, allowing the warm air to float on top of the denser, cooler air below, while at the same time experiencing a Chinese tradition: the Mid-Autumn Festival.

“It is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture,” Eastlake dual immersion teacher EE Wen Ting said. “In our classroom, we learned about the festival and the culture and the importance of people sending lanterns to remember their ancestors.”

Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, and held with a visible full moon, people celebrate their good harvest, eat moon cakes symbolic to seek the brightness of the moon in their life’s journey, and write messages on floating lanterns.

Before releasing their own lanterns on Sept. 24, about 80 Eastlake sixth-graders wrote their names on four white lanterns along with the words prosperity and happiness, Ting said.

“We want to send out wishes to the sky,” she said. “It’s part of our tradition and culture.”

Ting continues to celebrate the holiday at her own home, which she also said is a “Chinese thanksgiving.  We sit at a round table to reunite, to feast and to remember our family and wish good fortune.”

Ting as well as Eastlake Elementary had their lanterns tethered so they could bring them down after a few minutes of igniting them and watching them “float.”

“These students are learning about density and about Chinese culture, so this was an opportunity to merge their learning. This is a chance for them to engage in an activity that is important to our culture,” she said.

Izabelle Ford, who has studied Mandarin since first grade, said this was the first time she has seen the floating lanterns in person.

“It’s really cool because we’ve studied it, but here we got to try it as sixth-graders,” she said. “It was fun to do and interesting to learn what they do in their country as we learn the language.”