Sunday, December 17, 2017
Education

A visit to the USF St. Pete campus yields lessons in culture, science — and kindness

ST. PETERSBURG — Eleven-year-old Nyla Williams stepped onto her first college campus Friday expecting a tour of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. But she left with a handmade maraca, a lesson in kindness and the desire to be a future Bull.

She and 42 other fifth-graders from Fairmount Park Elementary came at the invitation of the USFSP College of Education and the local nonprofit Hands 4 Hope — part of an effort to introduce students from low-performing schools to the possibilities found in college.

Organizers took the students to three stations: "multicultural," "science" and "kindness," concluding with a tour of campus and a brown-bag lunch.

The idea was to give them a balanced, holistic experience, said Harris Ambush, community liaison for the USFSP College of Education, who created the program as part of his doctoral work.

"It's not just to offer a college supplement, it's also to offer a deeper sense of learning," he said.

Nyla Williams' group first stepped into the multicultural station, where 14 of her peers made maracas out of plastic eggs and rice and played double dutch jump rope, showcasing games from around the world.

Then the group entered the classroom of Noel Takeuchi, a biological sciences assistant professor, to fiddle with plastic human bones for an anatomy lesson. For many of the students, especially Williams, it was the highlight of the day.

"It's pretty fun," she said, fumbling with a string of vertebrae. Williams filled out a worksheet labeling the bones of the body with her friend, Keyziah Rutherford. Both said they wanted to be pediatricians some day.

"I'd like to deal with real bones, not plastic," Rutherford said.

Emily Strong, a children's ministry leader at First United Methodist Church, shuffled the group from station to station.

"I feel like the STEM is working," she said, referring to science, technology, engineering and math. "Everyone I ask wants to be a scientist or engineer."

At their final station, the students watched an upbeat music video about kindness. They jotted down how they could demonstrate the virtue to their families, their friends, at their schools, in the community, and most important, to themselves.

After, they scrambled outside to write their findings in chalk on the Harbor Walk patio. The ground came to life with colorful mantras:

Kindness is always the answer.

Be kind. Stop Bullying.

If you be kind to others you'll be respectful to yourself.

"A lot of them have a loving spirit," Ambush said. "They don't always have the opportunity to show it."

Fairmount Park is the latest school to participate in the experience. Campbell Park Elementary was the first school to visit, and Ambush plans to work with Melrose and Lakewood elementary schools and Meadowlawn Middle school.

He said the university is working on a grant to offer more programs geared toward middle school students.

"We have to show them that learning, kindness and taking care of yourself is part of a balanced lifestyle," he said. "We're really working hard to fund these for the kids."

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

Comments
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Published: 12/15/17
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Published: 12/15/17
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Published: 12/15/17
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/14/17