Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 12, 2013

Learning after hours

After-school community centers engage students who need academic help

Fifth-grader Nick Miller sprinted across the gym at Bon Air School on a recent afternoon.

He said he was trying really hard to beat his best time of 18 seconds for a lap. That day, he fell just short.

Nick plotted his time on a chart along with 14 other students from the school.

The physical movement is good for him, he said. It helps him relieve his frustrations and gives him a confidence boost.

“When I run, I feel kind of good about myself,” he said.

For fifth-grader Alexandria Royster, it’s the science experiments that help her the most.

She remembered one from their weather unit that was really fun. She got to make a cloud out of water, shaving cream and food coloring, she said. Alexandria said she put the water in first, sprayed shaving cream on top and then added the coloring.

“Then we waited to see what it would do,” she said. “Mine created a rain. It was very cool.”

The exercises and hands-on science activities are a part of Alexandria and Nick’s new after-school routine.

They were among 60 second- , third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Kokomo School Corp. selected to be the first to use the new after-school community centers the district launched with a $750,000 grant. The community centers provide a place for students, especially impoverished ones, to go after school to receive academic enrichment in areas like science and math.

The routine is the same every day: Physical activity, snack to refuel, homework time and science lesson. Then, at 6 p.m., buses take the children home.

On a recent afternoon, children learned how to make fog and tornadoes.

Students let out gasps and “oohs” when they saw that the hot water and ice they put together had created fog just like they saw that morning on their way to school.

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