If you challenge a child to use their creativity, often their imaginations will take flight and soar to new heights. That was certainly the case for the students in Ashley Wendt’s class during the last week.
The second grade teacher at Horace Mann Elementary let her students choose the topics they wanted to study in the last weeks of school.
When they chose space, the students took the assignment to a new level.
“We started to study everything about outer space,” second-grader Weston Davis said. “We learned all kinds of things like what the Greek meaning of astronaut is (space sailor) to things about the planets.”
At first, the students wanted to make small models of rockets and space vehicles but then decided to do things on a much larger scale.
With some cardboard boxes, duct tape and white pare along with their ingenuity, the students created their own replica of the space shuttle.
“We made a model of the space shuttle,” Asencion “Jr.” Salmeronmartinez said. “It took us about a week to make but we did everything to it.
“We made a control panel and painted it and put pictures of famous astronauts inside it,” he added. “The only thing we didn’t do was put the wings on it because it would have been too big then.”
According to the students, the actual space shuttle is 122 feet long and weighs 178,000 pounds. While their version is slightly smaller, it does consume the landing at the top of the stairs in the front hall of the school.
Not only are the second grade students learning from the model but also other grades have toured the model spacecraft during their classes.
“We wanted to put a lot of information with it so we could all learn,” Anna Walker said. “It has stuff about people who have been in space but I learned that yellow stars are the youngest stars and then red ones and finally blue ones are the oldest, I didn’t know that.”
Principal Dr. Todd Fraley was proud of the work Wendt and her class and the other teachers and classes had completed throughout the year at the school.
“We focus on trying to challenge both the students and the teachers to integrate real life situations and learning into all of their projects and assignments,” Fraley said. “Anything that we can do to promote active learning always helps the students.
“This was a self-directed assignment where the students were allowed to choose the topic they wanted to study,” he added. “Anytime you can allow that to happen there is increased motivation on the part of the students to learn and make those real world connections.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484