News and Tribune

March 27, 2014

Rocketing ahead at Greater Clark County Schools

Students study engineering during spring break intersession

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Instead of staying on the ground, about 25 students blasted off their spring break Wednesday by building rockets.

Greater Clark County Schools continued started its second intersession this week, the first week of spring break. While some students elect to come and catch up on subjects they’re struggling with, several came in for an engineering enrichment class.

Gary Rivoli, director of outreach programs for the University of Louisville J.B. Speed School of Engineering, helped with rocket building. But he said he was glad to see children volunteer to learn about science, technology, engineering and math.

“It is unusual that this school chose to do this during spring break, that’s usually when everyone hits Destin,” Rivoli said, referring to a popular Florida vacation spot. “But the kids that are here are the ones who want to be here.”Earlier in the week, students learned about bridges from Josh Hillman, a project manager at Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz in Jeffersonville.

Jynn Yoo, a fifth-grader from W.E. Wilson Elementary School, said learning about civil engineers sparked her interest in becoming one some day. She said she liked building things with LEGOs at home, so it kind of made sense to her.

Lynda Cannon, a special needs coordinator at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, was one of the teachers helping the class. She said it’s good to see children interested in learning on their own.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for these guys,” Cannon said. “They’ve been engaged and excited. This is my first intersession, so I think it’s been positive. It’s better than having them sitting in front of a TV with video games at home.”

She said especially since they might not get a chance to learn about some of these subjects until much later in their academic career, she’s glad to see they chose to spend part of their break learning something new.

Rivoli said while STEM subjects can be a little heavy, students can have some fun as long as they get to work with their hands and apply the concepts.

“At this age, getting them to do something hands-on is important,” Rivoli said. “Then giving them the knowledge of why they’re doing what they’re doing is also important. They’re going to go home to mom and dad and say, ‘Look what I did today.’ What they’re doing is engineering.”