By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
What happens when you attach an ordinary rubber balloon to the back of a small model boat? You get a air-propelled watercraft.
About 15 local kids got to try out this experiment, as well as many more, during the Enhanced Academic Growth and Leadership Education (EAGLE) Summer Science program held last week at the Moapa Educational Support Center on the Paiute Indian Reservation.
The program is an extended three-week academic program for local students in grades 3-5 who need additional math, science, and literacy support. During the three weeks, students meet for three hours each morning, in a hands-on classroom setting, to learn principles of science.
The program is funded through the Equity and Diversity Education Department of the Clark County School District, which also owns and operates the Support Center. Additional support comes from the Moapa Band of Paiutes.
According to Moapa Educational Support Center (MESC) Project Facilitator Della Frank, the center sends fliers through both of the local elementary schools during the closing weeks of the school year. Parents can then register their students and the 15 student program fills up on a first come, first served basis, Frank said.
“We distribute the fliers through both schools,” Frank said. “But it is interesting that most of the students come up to the program all the way from Bowler Elementary.”
Frank began the Summer Science program back in 2008. At that time, her own son was attending a summer science education program in Henderson called Mad Science.
“It was only a week long and it cost $190, but he loved it,” Frank said. “I wanted to bring something like that closer to home for local kids and make it more affordable.”
She applied to the CCSD Equity and Diversity Department and got funding for the program. Since that time more than 80 local children have participated in the free summer program.
Frank’s son, Jacob Parker, a teenager now, spends the three weeks each year as an assistant in the program, Frank said.
“The program’s primary goal is for kids to fall in love with learning,” Frank said. “For many years, I have seen students that are unmotivated to learn and I wanted to do something about this. I wanted to make learning fun for these kids.”
Looking at the students in the program, it appears that Frank has succeeded. The fast-paced, entertaining and activities-based program keeps the attention of every child in the room.
During the first week of the program, students learned about Isaac Newton and the laws of motion. They set up several experiments using model cars and, of course, balloon-propelled boats. As they did so the kids carefully observed the results of their experiments.
During the second week, the subject turned to geology and rocks. Through various activities, students learned about different types of rocks and about the states of matter. The unit culminated in a field trip to the Valley of Fire State Park to observe rock formations in the area which took place earlier this week.
The final week of the program, which is going on this week, is devoted to learning about biology and the life cycle.
“We cover material that most of the kids haven’t started into during the school year,” Frank said. “So it gives them a little sneak preview into what they will be covering soon; and also a head start. We’ve heard feedback that the kids have an easier time in class when they get to that material because they have already seen it here.”
The program always ends with a well deserved day of fun going swimming at the Mesquite Recreation Center.