- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - For some Cheyenne students, summer is about having fun and learning at the same time.

That is one of the goals of the ASK Bio Blitz Summer program, according to organizers. The program is run by the Laramie County Community Partnership, which also runs the After School for Kids program.

“Hopefully, they’re getting some things that they haven’t learned before, and excitement and enhancement out of the summer,” ASK Director Kathleen Gillgannon said.

The program, based at Cheyenne’s Cole Elementary, was open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. It is set to run through July 18, according to program information.

This year’s Bio Blitz theme looked to include science in all of the activities offered, Gillgannon said.

“Everything they do every day is brought to their attention with some kind of science,” she said.

As part of the hands-on science lessons, students planted a community garden for the school, ASK teacher Devyan Paiz said.

“Science isn’t just experiments,” she said. “It’s watching the things grow.”

When they aren’t working in the garden, students take observations on the plants and weather conditions, she said.

“This week, we’ll talk about weather and why it rains,” she said.

On Tuesday, students got to work in the garden and had encounters with weeds and earthworms.

Several students said they’ve enjoyed getting to learn through the garden.

Student Karissa Valdez said her favorite part of the program was working in the garden.

“We learned how to plant and a lot of cool stuff,” she said.

A classroom component of the science lesson offers students a chance to do experiments and discuss what careers could be connected to the work they’re doing, organizers said.

In addition to science class, students have hands-on experiences with subjects like art and music, program coordinator Tanya Salih said.

“I really want them to discover a new passion and pursue it,” she said. “A creative outlet is really a goal.”

That knowledge can teach students to create their own happiness in any situation, she said.

Students also get a dose of cultural awareness through the classes, Salih said.

“(They are) getting a more global understanding,” she said. “As much as they can be exposed to more music, more art, more things they wouldn’t necessarily see on the streets of Cheyenne.”

The program has brought in several guest presenters to introduce students to new cultures and ideas, Salih said.

These have included working with James Peebles on African music and with Denver-based hip-hop and spoken word artist Molina Speaks.

“It was very cool. He came in last week and showed them more of the poetry and more verbal understanding of cultural arts - I want them to hear the music side of it,” she said.

Several students said they were enjoying the classes and projects.

“It’s really fun, and all the teachers are fun to hang out with and talk to,” student Kani Miller said. “And it’s fun to do all the programs and the new things we do every day.”


Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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