Garrett Thomas and other elementary students used pizza boxes, plastic, black paper and aluminum foil to construct “solar ovens” that they placed on the sidewalk, in sunshine, near the Woodrow Wilson Middle School entrance.
Perhaps the best part of the science project was eating the final product — melted s’mores. Earlier in the day, the students in Lindsey Coons’ writing class used the science experiment for a writing project.
“The plastic traps all the heat in ... so it can melt the chocolate,” and the black paper “absorbs the heat,” said Thomas, who will be in fourth-grade next school year. About 15 minutes later, the chocolate melted, he and other students enjoyed their edible creation.
“I’m going to try this at home,” he said Wednesday.
Thomas is one of about 500 Vigo County School Corp. students in grades 2-12 participating in a variety of summer school programs taking place at Woodrow Wilson.
They include reading/writing and math enrichment programs for grades 3-8, called Math Magic and Reading/Writing Wonders; a foundational literacy program for second and third graders; and a high school Performing Arts Workshop.
Parents of second- and third-grade students will be invited for coffee chats about the importance of literacy and receive free books, and all parents can attend Parent University, hosted by counselors in four morning sessions.
And this week, a new program for middle school students called Hometown University begins.
Meanwhile, in the Wilson auditorium Wednesday, 50 high school students in the Performing Arts Workshop prepared for a June 19 performance of “Rock around the Block.” They have just 12 days to learn their lines and choreography before show time. It is an elective course that counts as a fine arts credit.
Some students perform, while others are involved on the technical side or in the orchestra.
Sydney Dunkin, who will be a West Vigo senior, is one of the featured performers. The musical “is like a ‘50s tribute. We’re a bunch of high school kids putting together our school dance,” she said, explaining the story line. It’s her third year to participate in the summer workshop.
The high schoolers will be hard at work from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for 12 days, but they’ll also have to prepare on their own time. “You have to prepare outside the camp if you want it to be a really good show,” Dunkin said.
Throughout the building, all kinds of reading, writing and math activities were underway. Middle school math students worked on problem solving that required higher level thinking skills. In the reading/writing class, seventh and eighth graders were reading a book about Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education advocate who, at age 17, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
At the elementary level, students also have math and reading/writing classes; writing projects are based on science themes, such as solar power or the five senses.
Marika Korobkin, 11, who just completed fifth grade, wanted to take part in the summer program because “I did it last year. It was really fun and I learned a lot and it really helped me in the next grade that I was going to.”
The Math Magic and Reading/Writing Wonders program also pairs veteran teachers with those who are relatively new to the profession. “For teachers, it’s kind of a mentoring program,” said Jean McCleary, who oversees the reading/writing component.
In one third-grade math class, veteran teacher Kathy Spelman is paired with Karlie Atkinson, who just completed her first year of teaching at Deming. “It’s kind of nice that we collaborate. I learn from her, she learns from me,” said Spelman, a third grade teacher at DeVaney Elementary.
Atkinson wanted to teach in the summer program because “I thought it would be a good learning opportunity.” By pairing with a veteran teacher, she knew she’d learn a lot and gain new ideas.
“She [Spelman] has so many different resources and ideas as far as math goes, but also on classroom management and behavior and how to adapt to different student needs. It’s been exciting,” Atkinson said. Spelman also “can take what happened in the first group and quickly switch it up to make adjustments in the second group.”
Karen Goeller, VCSC deputy superintendent, said the summer programs have support from multiple community groups and grants. The Vigo County Education Foundation provides free bus transportation for students in grades 2-8 and also funds the Performing Arts Program.
The VCSC Food Services Department serves free breakfasts and free lunches to all students.
Students in Math Magic and Reading/Writing Wonders also will experience the N.E.A.T. [New and Emerging Automation Technology] Trailer for four days related to career exploration, which also will involve writing activities.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.