Elementary schools take education outside

School's in session at Dodge Elementary, but not in the way you might think. Young scientists are taking their classrooms outside.

On Thursday, the "Roots and Shoots" program received a grant to begin their outdoor garden.

They're even getting some recognition from an internationally known celebrity.

"It takes a community to grow," said Success Academy Principal Ken Defrank.

The community that's growing together are the students from Dodge Elementary "Roots and Shoots" program and Grand Island Success Academy. They’re taking their classrooms outdoors.

"We want to get kids out of the building. We think that the classroom is the world. It's not four walls. We want to have real life applications for students," added Defrank.

They’re doing what’s called blended learning where traditional classroom meets hands on projects. Dodge received a $1,600 grant to create an outdoor garden and butterfly habitat.

“We want to create this and the kids to have real live data collection and how we apply that in real life.” he said. “It's just going to be a win-win for everybody."

Jose Clemente is a junior at Success Academy and has been involved in the program for a year. He says he became fascinated because of global warming and the impact on younger students.

"It feels good because I didn't really think a lot of people were into it," Clemente said. "So I was like shocked when they were telling me that there were more like 50 kids into this so I was like, 'wow.'"

As for Defrank, he says his joy comes from watching the kids apply their learning from the classroom to the field.

"When they get out there and you can just look at their face and overhearing the conversations with each other and the things that they're talking about, that's the real payoff," Defrank said.

Payoff it did because international activist, Jane Goodall, will be visiting next month. For some, they say they’re getting to meet one of their heroes.

Jane Goodall will be at Grand Island Senior High auditorium, Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m. The event is free, but requires a ticket. If you’d like a ticket you can got to the GIPS Kneale Administration building on Tuesday, February 21 , at 8 a.m.

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