Flipping through his new multi-use dictionary, 8-year-old Bradley Lawrence saw what he thought might be a discrepancy and raised his hand.
“It says here that there are eight planets in our solar system, is that right,” Lawrence asked. “How recently was this published?”
Lawrence’s question was a reasonable one, given Pluto’s recent relegation to dwarf planet status, but his concern about his new book was allayed. Published in May 2006 by The Dictionary Project, Inc., the eleventh edition of A Student’s Dictionary & Gazetteer did correctly list the number of planets in the solar system at eight, down from the nine-planet system that had previously included Pluto.
Bradley was one of about 70 third grade students at Bells Mill Elementary School to receive the new dictionaries as a gift from the Potomac-Bethesda chapter of the Rotary Club on Wednesday, Nov. 29. It is a county-wide project during November, which is National Dictionary Month, according to Jerry Gross, the president of the Bethesda-Potomac chapter.
“It’s a great program,” said Alan Grant of the Rotary Club. “We come in and tell them about the Rotary Club and what we do — our philanthropies all over the world — and we give them these dictionaries that will be useful for them.”
“It’s a special dictionary,” said Gross. “It’s got more than just words in it — it also has all of the presidents, the states, and a copy of the Constitution in it,” as well as a host of other information useful for young students, according to Gross.
“We’ll use this for (the student’s) vocabulary and grammar development skills,” said Kathleen Jenkins, a third-grade teacher at Bells Mill.
The dictionaries coincidentally come at the same time that the students are in the middle of a learning unit entitled Reading to be Informed that focuses on non-fiction reading, according to Joyce Yoder, also a teacher at Bells Mill.
“It fits in with the non-fiction reading the students are doing now,” said Yoder. “[The dictionaries] are small so they’ll fit very well in their desks.”
Members of the Rotary Club explained to the students about some of their charitable works in Africa helping underprivileged people with health needs, and guided the students through their new dictionaries by having them look up words and going over their definitions.
“We have dictionaries in the classrooms,” said Yoder, “but when it’s your own it has a different meaning for you.”