In one classroom, students were learning about solids, liquids and gases by actually mixing ingredients to create solids and liquids. In another room at Lincoln's Elliott Elementary School, students were learning about careers in science and that’s the point of this summer school program hosted by the YMCA.
“Specifically, we see that kids are getting really excited about science and seeing science as a career,” said the YMCA's Kristi Chambers.
The morning portion of the program involves similar approaches of hands-on learning with an extra emphasis on reading. About two-thirds of the 90 students come recommended by a teacher. Three Elliott Elementary teachers team up with eight YMCA staff members, mostly college students.
“I think when people hear project or problem-based learning they have a picture in their head and it's probably not as intensive as what we are doing,” said Chambers.
Project or problem-based learning involves students using multiple steps or thoughts to solve real-world problems. It allows students to explore possible solutions on their own, sometimes through trial and error, and lets them learn about how things work.
There are also social components to this program. Swimming lessons for the students provide them a chance to learn something new. If students attend school three out of four days each week, they get to go on the Friday field trip in Lincoln. At the end of the month-long program, the entire group can go to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.