OUS tries to make learning fun again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Academy of Excellence is trying to make education for children fun again.

Ohio University Southern and local educators are providing hands-on educational enrichment activities for some children.

“The schools are so geared to the (standardized) testing and programs like that,” Linda Mann, onsite coordinator, said. “This lets them know education is still fun.”

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The program allows the first through sixth graders to select two topics which include Rainforest, Science Can Be Simple, Science With Toys, Take A Quick Bow, Space and the Universe and others.

Janet Wagner, director of community education programs, said she organizes the courses with teachers and makes sure to stay within state requirements for subjects offered in the school system, but makes sure the children have fun when learning.

For two weeks the children attend one of the subjects, a fitness session, a snack served by senior citizen volunteers and then the other subject, every morning.

“It keeps their minds active and it’s challenging because it is for the higher thinkers so it keeps them interested,” said Beth Langdon, a 2nd grade teacher at South Point Elementary who teaches Rainforest at the Academy of Excellence.

Mann said the program was only offered to the top five percent, but it will be open to everyone next summer and more programs will be added.

Sue Wills, a fourth and fifth grade science teacher at Burlington Elementary, said the hands-on activities are helping the children learn the basics.

“It actually brings it home. They really remember it,” she said. “It isn’t just book learning; reading and trying to remember it. They won’t forget it if they actually do it.”

Wills teaches Science With Toys at the academy. The children in her classes made butter and made light bulbs light up among other hands-on activities.

Mike Pleasant has been a physical education teacher for 30 years and has been at the academy for 15 years.

He said the physical ability of children has decreased over the years and it is important the fitness sessions are part of the program. He also said he gears his exercises toward cardio and aerobic fitness.

“Kids need to get more of that,” he said. “They are in the house a lot. A lot of kids don’t even go out and play anymore. They are just into video games and computers. It’s just changed.”

Pleasant said technology is affecting the way children interact with others.

“They can’t play long. They get very impatient,” he said. “ Computers have no feelings. When kids get in arguments and can’t play, that let’s us know they are out of touch. I’m here to get them in touch.”

Mann said the program has been offered through OU for more than 15 years.

She also said the funding comes from a fee paid by students. Scholarships provided by funds donated by OU faculty are offered to students who may not be able to afford the academy.