Into the Wild promotes hands-on learning

TEMP ORARY November 4, 2011 0

Fish, spiders and worms oh my! There will be a variety of live animals crawling and squirming all over Nicarry on Saturday. But do not be alarmed: the spider infestation is not spreading campus-wide, and your safety is not in danger. Instead, children will be fascinated with hands-on science experiences. Real fish, spiders, worms, ants and more will be on display for children to examine for a fun-filled learning experience.

Saturday, Nov. 5, Elizabethtown College’s chapter of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) will be hosting an event called “Into the Wild.” The event is designed to teach three through seven-year-olds about science. There will be songs, dance, crafts, stories, tasty snacks and more.

The three year-olds will learn about the different parts of trees. Four and five-year-olds will learn about vertebrates. Meanwhile, six and seven-year-olds will be taught about insects, their body structure and their habits. All age levels will be examining the question of whether these animals are pests or guests.

Through events such as Into the Wild, adults are trying to get the next generation interested in science at an early age. If they like it now, maybe they will continue to enjoy it or at least survive their high school science classes. “Kids are not always exposed to science on an everyday basis, so this is a good dose of science,” junior Casey Grouser said.

“The kids are gaining science vocabulary without even realizing they are learning,” junior Jess Swank, vice president of NSTA, said. The college students and Dr. Kathy Blouch, assistant professor of science education, are working to find ways to promote science education to children through inquiry and experimentation.

A goal of the event is to strengthen the college’s relationship with the community. “The hope is to bring the community into the campus, to strengthen the connection and help the kids,” junior Caroline Schuster said.

“Events such as Come Into the Wild embody Elizabethtown’s slogan, ‘Educate for Service’,” said Blouch. “Service is the crux of learning.”

Another hope of the Into the Wild event is to help participating college students grow professionally and personally. “The children are learning and we are learning from them, too,” Grouser said. “The more experience I get working with kids, the more confident I will be and the more I will grow as a teacher,” Schuster said. Further commenting on the importance of getting particular experience, junior Ashley Butenewicz stated, “Working with kids brings life to our learning.”

Although these previously mentioned goals are accomplished by the event, the main intention is to simply have fun with the children. Participating students say it’s a great opportunity to serve the community. In her third year at the College, Blouch is working hard to expand the activities which promote service learning in science education. “All the available service learning opportunities is why I choose to attend Elizabethtown College. It’s why we’re here,” Butenewicz said.

Through the experience, students can reflect on their growth as educators when they see how they react in a real life setting. It’s also a great mentoring experience. First years can see upperclassmen and how they have grown as educators and what they should strive to be as well.

If this brief explanation of the offerings of Into the Wild interest you, you’re encouraged to get involved. Community members and professors who have children ages three to seven are encouraged to sign up. Blouch commented that they are not limiting the number of children able to attend this year, so sign up today!

If you want to register for Saturday’s event contact Blouch at with your child’s name, age, number of parents/guardians attending, contact information (phone number or email address) and any allergies or other medical concerns.

In addition, any student may still be able to get involved. Interested students should contact junior Alicia Klepper at “Music students can help with the song, art students can help with the craft; there is an opportunity for everyone to get involved and have fun!” Blouch said.

Even if you are unable to help at this event, get in contact with NSTA or Blouch about all the service learning opportunities available this year. Anyone can get involved; you do not need to be a science or education major to participate, all majors are welcome.

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