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Maple summer session offers unique classes

Popsicles and a slide show of photos heralded the end of summer school at Northwestern Elementary School this afternoon. The photos featured almost every student enjoying scientific experiments, special outfits or other classwork. Maple school di...

Popsicles and a slide show of photos heralded the end of summer school at Northwestern Elementary School this afternoon.

The photos featured almost every student enjoying scientific experiments, special outfits or other classwork. Maple school district's summer session runs four weeks each summer and serves children ages 3-15.

"It's fun learning about science, and it's fun to eat your math projects and science projects," said fourth grader Haley Zinmer, who took the science and math class this summer.

In the class students learned about sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks by forming models out of candy -- then ate them.

About 200 children were served by the four week program. Maple School District has offered a summer school component for about 13 years. It started so kids wouldn't have to travel to Superior for a summer learning experience. Since then, the program has continued to grow in scope.

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In the past, classes including computer technology and dinosaurs have been popular. This year's new classes mingled important life skills with education. New classes included babysitting and lifetime sports. Standard offerings such as a newsletter class, Spanish and insects returned.

Rock candy wasn't the only sticky project at Northwestern Elementary School this summer.

The science and math class is filled with experimentation and games, said Rick Nelson, teacher.

Nelson teaches during the year in Ladysmith and condensed all his favorite science projects into a four week summer school program for Maple students while vacationing in Iron River.

The class included lighting a $1 bill on fire without burning it, pop bottle rockets, dissected crayfish and more. Generally, Nelson would demonstrate a project and ask the students to figure out how it was done with a couple hints, he said.

Along with science projects the students played math games.

"They don't realize they're learning when they're having fun," Nelson said.

Science and math was added this year for variety because the subjects can be enticing for older children, said Deb Drahos, summer session coordinator.

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The summer school is filled each year with unique classes and themes to keep the students engaged. The program offers specialty classes for older children and an introduction to school for preschoolers. The cost is $10 per student and includes transportation.

While students sign up for different classes, the program has school wide features. Each class day is split around a reading-partner time in the middle of the day. Many days are characterized by special outfits or articles of clothing. Thursday was wacky hair day, Drahos said.

All classes also set out to reinforce reading and math skills, and classes with older children reinforced research skills, she said.

Lifetime sports taught students games they can enjoy to stay active throughout their lives, but the class isn't all play. Students researched games online and built game courts and equipment to add reading and math skills, said teacher David Gustafson.

The class gave its students an added advantage to education, it kept them active. Instead of spending the day inside on the couch watching TV or playing video games these kids were outside playing most of the day, he said.

The babysitting class also offered practical skills. The class is sending 18 trained babysitters out into the Maple area this summer.

The class taught students about dealing with temper tantrums, entertaining toddlers, diaper changing methods and first aid. The course also included a portfolio. Each student wrote a portfolio detailing what they learned. Students also practiced interview skills, said teacher Karen Koehler.

Sixth grader Emaleigh Helsing took the babysitting class because she enjoys being around kids. She already babysits but said she's learned a lot.

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The class was helpful because it taught babysitters how to play with small children, said Sarah Goddard.

Courtney Stahl said the class helped her learn how to be firm with a child who isn't listening.

As part of the course, the babysitters helped the preschool classes with recess, snack and class time. Working with them helped, Goddard said.

"You learn a lot," she said. "It's interesting what you learn. It gives you more experience for working with other little kids."

The most popular classes are preschool and kindergarten. The classes for 3- and 4-year-olds and kindergarten were packed with eager small children to learn about school.

The 3-year-olds learned about structured play, colors, counting and socialization.

The classes got more advanced with age. The 4-year-olds worked on painting skills, stories and songs. While the kindergarten class was a mini version of kindergarten complete with show-and-tell.

With classes ending today, students plan to enjoy the rest of summer with camping and swimming until school starts up again, they said.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

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