From innocent to awkward to ease

Sophie makes a heart with her tiny hands, and then slowly breaks it with sad eyes. The kindergartener had just confessed to Kaden that she liked him, but he only saw her as a friend.

Eli threatens to eat Delaney’s pencil sharpener every day during band. Whether or not this sixth grade boy actually has any intentions on snacking on the pink plastic was never denied nor confirmed, but the look he gave Delaney gave a hint that maybe it was not the pencil sharpener he was interested in.

Blanca opens up to Kyle about being raised by a single mom. The juniors comfortably discuss life experiences and offer comfort without feelings of uneasiness.

The way girls and boys interact changes as they change. In the interest of discovering what causes these changes apart from the obvious reasons, Timberlines staff members conducted research that spanned three schools and nine grade levels. For experimental purposes, six students from kindergarten as well as second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, eleventh, and twelth grades were paired off with students from the opposite sex with directed questions. The purpose was to observe how conversations changed with age.

Kindergarten Interaction

Kindergarteners Phoebe and Gage discussed what they would change about themselves.

“I would change my voice, I think,” Phoebe said.

Gage furrowed his eyebrows and offered a solution.

“Oh that’s easy, all you have to do is hold your nose like this,” he said.

The two answered the rest of their questions pinching their noses and laughing at each other.

Sixth Grade Interaction

Sixth graders Eli and Delaney responded to questions about the best things that had happened to them. Eli stared at his hands when he first began to talk, but then began looking at Delaney to make sure she was listening.

“The best thing that has, uh, ever happened to me was that I, uh, accomplished Student of the Month in fourth grade,” he said.

Junior Interaction

Juniors Kyle and Blanca responded to questions about the worst thing to ever happen to them.

“The worst thing to ever happen to me was moving from Florida when I was in fifth grade. It was a really big deal to me because I had all of my close friends and I knew my place,” Kyle said.

Exchanging Compliments

After answering a series of questions, students were asked to compliment their partners. Kindergartener Sophie had hers ready for Kaden as soon as asked.

“You’re as sweet as a sugar cone cookie,” she said.

Kaden could not think of one.

Seventh graders Bella and Devin turned bright red when they were asked to compliment each other. Both gave each other questioning looks and then stared back at their feet.

“You have nice shoes,” Bella said.

“Yeah, I like your shoes,” Devin responded.

Juniors Scott and Claire went about complimenting each other with more ease.

“I like your eyes; they’re really pretty,” Claire said.

“You have a nice fashion sense,” Scott said.

Conquering Tasks

The next part of the experiment involved the human knot. The human knot is created with people standing in a circle and grabbing the hands of people opposite them. The knot was crafted so each boy would be holding hands with a girl, and participants had to find a way to get themselves out of it. The purpose of this experiment was to observe their communication skills and teamwork.

The kindergartners were not bothered by the idea at all. They grabbed whoever’s hand they were asked to and then stood there waiting for instruction. When told to get out of it, they simply dropped hands. Not everyone is smarter than a kindergartner.

The seventh graders almost ran away when the idea was introduced. It was awkward and unsuccessful. After, they all got in a circle and discussed why it did not work.

“Women are intimidating,” one boy blurted out but would not take ownership of his comment.

The juniors showed no signs of awkwardness but were not as clever as the kindergarteners had been. They were, however, able to untie themselves from the knot. After, everyone got in the circle and talked about why it worked.

“I think that everyone took initiative when it was their turn to take it. No one was too shy to step up,” Blanca said.


The process of devolopment for students is truly fascinating. As demonstrated in these experiments, the differences are evident in the way different age groups communicate and work with each other. Kindergartners have an inoccent, loving perspective while sixth graders are often intimidated and awkward around each other. By the time students reach their junior years, they seem more comftorable and at ease when communicating and working with the opposite sex. As kindergartners, students are not as aware of their differences but sixth graders are overly-aware while high school students are beginning to embrace them.


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