The tension is high.
Each of Orlinda Terry’s third-grade students has folded and molded a sheet of aluminum foil into a small boat. A pan of water sits on a table at the front of the classroom.
Slowly, students begin to surround the table, waiting to test whether their boats float or sink. Other students wait at their desks to make last-minute modifications to their designs. Back at the table, the first student carefully places her boat into the “lake.” What will happen?
The boat floats with no problem, but wait just a minute. Orlinda Terry begins handing the student marbles to represent people. How many “people” can ride on the boat safely without overcrowding?
This test of strength and buoyancy is an example of what participants in Warren County Schools’ Camp Warren Summer Bridge program have been doing this month. They have explored subjects such as reading, math, science, technology and engineering through a range of hands-on activities.
Some 250 students in kindergarten through grade 12 have been participating in Summer Bridge, which began July 11 and will conclude tomorrow. Elementary grades are housed at Mariam Boyd Elementary School. Middle and high school grades are housed at Warren County Middle School.
Students are grouped by the grade they just completed and study concepts they will learn in the grade they are about to enter.
Kimberly Scott, Warren County Schools’ chief academic officer, said that the camps are free of charge and include transportation, breakfast, lunch and field trips.
She noted that the Mariam Boyd site focuses on learning enrichment and acceleration, including literacy and reading, and mathematics in a fun way. Students at the Warren County Middle School site focus on preparing for high school math, college and careers. They learn about a different occupation each day. Teachers from schools across the district lead activities at the learning sites.
Testing the buoyancy of boats made from aluminum foil was just one of the projects that students at the Mariam Boyd site were doing last Thursday.
Tracy Thorpe’s first-grade students were learning about telling time on the clock and working with the letter combinations of th, sh, ch and wh. They were also working on arts and crafts.
In Maurice Crump’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class, second graders were making wind-powered devices to deliver cake treats over a distance of 6 feet. Students tested their designs in front of a small fan, and then made changes to improve them.
Members of the Heritage Quilters were working with Perline Williams’ third-grade students to help them discover how studying quilts can help them understand math. Warren Early College High School student Mark Jones and recent University of North Carolina graduate Makayla Williams were teaching students chess.
Marion Barnes’ kindergarten students were learning sight words and working to make complete sentences.
Fifth-grade students in Cherita Smith’s Music class were studying percussion instruments and trying their hands at playing several examples. They also discussed the differences between classifications of musical instruments.
The Summer Bridge program also involved representatives of North Carolina State University, who have been working at both the elementary, and the middle and high school sites. Last week, they were guiding fifth-graders as they learned to program a robot using code blocks of instruction.
The summer studies have included guest speakers and field trips, including a visit to the Poe Center for Health Education in Raleigh for fourth and fifth graders. For younger students, representative of the Poe Center traveled to the Mariam Boyd site. Students became plant part detectives as they learned about the classifications of vegetables. Smith and Mariam Boyd Site Coordinator Lianndra Davis explained that such studies are part of a focus on nutrition as part of healthy living.
Students in grades six through 12 have been visiting universities and the Center for Energy Education in Roanoke Rapids.
Summer Bridge teachers are excited about how eagerly their students are learning and the collaboration they have shown as they work on projects, Smith and Davis said. The note that students are building something at the end of every class and are proud of their work. Smith and Davis indicated that, even in the early grades, such projects help students begin to prepare for future careers.
They are also thankful for the community volunteers who are supporting Summer Bridge, including the Heritage Quilters and five summer interns. The students are recent college graduates or current students who have completed at least 60 hours of coursework at the college level, including community college.
When the Summer Bridge program concludes this week, students will likely remember the fun they had with activities, projects and field trips. That’s exactly what Scott, Davis and everyone at Warren County Schools hope they will do. They want students to realize that learning is fun, whether it is during a summer enrichment camp or during the regular school year.