Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Kids learn from building

Construction project enters classrooms at Summit

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Summit Country Day School students help "Super Structure" demonstrate how a bridge works.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
HYDE PARK - "Super Structure" is a superhero with a twist.

She doesn't fight evil or crime. Instead, "Super Structure" (a.k.a. Laurie Michnal) gets students excited about scientific principles.

Donning a red cape and displaying enough energy to light a subdivision, Michnal was at Summit Country Day School on Tuesday teaching students in grades K-3 about the forces that keep tall buildings erect.

The purpose of the event - led by COSI on Wheels (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus - was to help students understand the construction and architectural concepts they are witnessing from their classrooms.

Summit Country Day, a pre-K-12 private school of 1,100 students, is undergoing an $11 million expansion, which includes a new lower school that will replace the razed Montessori and primary buildings.

"As long as we're going to have machines out there, let's make use of them," said art teacher Jan Wiesner.

Teachers in all K-3 classes are integrating the study of architecture and construction into their classroom lessons and activities.

Phyllis Schueler, director of Summit's Montessori program, said integrating the curriculum in all lesson plans "makes it fun and makes students understand."

In art, students are designing dream houses. In language arts, they're writing about what they see.

COSI on Wheels brings hands-on science to schools, catering programs to specific learning themes.

"We want kids to get excited about science," Michnal said. "We want them to get that 'wow' feeling."

Illustrating the concept of compression Tuesday, Michnal showed students in Kyte Theatre how four raw eggs can hold 40 pounds of bricks, then showcased the principle of tension by stretching a giant rubber band to its limit and letting go.

"It kind of helped me understand what tension and compression was because I don't think I knew about that," said Anne Klette, 6, a first-grader from Madisonville.


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