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TOYS show teachers new way to inspire students

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. — If their students could see them now. The science teachers at Chesapeake schools were on their hands and knees putting together blue plastic track with lots of loop-the-loops. Next they got their tiny hot wheel cars and tried and tried and tried until they could get the cars through the various mazes of turns without the cars turning over.

As much as it looked like fun, the teachers were into serious training about how to teach their discipline better once they were back into the classroom.

It was all a part of TOYS, a special program sponsored by Marathon Oil Corp., where area teachers learn how to get their students excited about science by using toys and other common objects for their lessons. The TOYS program or Teaching Our Youth Science was developed by instructors from Miami University of Ohio, with Marathon donating $20,000 to fund approximately 30 science teachers from the Tri-State to attend the week-long workshops. Teachers from Chesapeake were the only ones from Lawrence County to participate at the sessions held at Marathon’s Catlettsburg Refinery.

“It’s awesome,” Beth Wireman, a Chesapeake seventh grader teacher, said. “This is the best science professional development we’ve attended. Everything has been hands-on and it models the way to teach it. It uses simple things and toys I would never have thought of, we can use for science.”

Both physics and chemistry were approached by the TOYS method and taught by different instructors from Miami.

“This actually gives students the chance to not just hear, but do the activities,” Dwight Portman, a Miami physics instructor, said.