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Making learning fun

Eugene summer schools draws 155 students

Smaller class sizes during the summer session allow Eugene art teacher Amanda Davis the opportunity to expand her project offerings, like this blazing banyan tree project that followed an in-depth look at the Native American culture from which it came.

Smaller class sizes during the summer session allow Eugene art teacher Amanda Davis the opportunity to expand her project offerings, like this blazing banyan tree project that followed an in-depth look at the Native American culture from which it came. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

EUGENE — Selecting just the right recycled material and the best way to arrange them for optimum safety of their “egg drop,” Samantha Evers and Adam Koetting knew taking their time would pay off.

Kelly Haney’s sixth-grade class at Cole County R-V summer school Wednesday eagerly braved the rain to try-out their basket and parachute in flight in the elementary school playground.

Of the seven launchers assembled and tested, Evers and Koetting had the only one that kept the egg from breaking.

After the outdoor testing, the class discussed what might have led to the team’s success — longer strings, a better designed parachute, the use of quilt batting inside the basket.

“Awesome” was the reaction Evers and Koetting had when they found their egg intact, they said.

“I learned the longer you take and the more time and effort you take, the better it will be,” Koetting said.

The science project was a diversion from the concentrated lessons on math and communication arts at the first summer school in Eugene for the last three years.

A few of the 155 students attend other schools during the school year. But they decided to host an open session, Principal Dan Smith said.

“We wanted to make sure we had some kind of bridge” between school end and when it resumes Aug. 20, Smith said.

Most schools concentrate on math and communication arts proficiency, Smith said. At summer school, the intent is to educate while having fun.

Summer school has about half the attendance of kindergarten through eighth grade during the regular school year.

That has made for some fun projects in Amanda Davis’ art classes.

A first-year teacher, Davis didn’t have the advantage of previous year’s curriculum. However, she said it was fun to come up with the summer session projects with a math or communications arts focus.

Several three-dimensional and sculpture projects, which might be too costly or cumbersome to do with a full classroom, have been offered this summer, Davis said.

On Wednesday the fourth-grade class was creating blazing banyan tree art, based on the Native American work. The hands-on project followed a study on the trees and the culture, Davis said.

Many of her students were surprised and pleased to hear Davis say, “Be messy!”

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