Twenty eight students joined us for a wonderful winter day excursion in the park. Though we were hoping the snow would stick around for a day of sledding, Mother Nature had other plans. Instead, we set Akron Public Schools (APS) C-TAG (Closing the Achievement Gap) staff and students on a four-part challenge extravaganza.
Part one of the challenges had teams racing to build the tallest free-standing tower. Given only a calendar and a strand of tape, students worked together to build a structurally sound edifice. By the end of the day, it was the self-named “Dream Team’s” tower that earned the tallest, free-standing prize.
After completing the first challenge, teams were given a campus map and were asked to navigate their way to the other activity stations. As teams were comprised of students from four different high schools, learning to work with unfamiliar peers was part of the task.
Upon arriving at a second challenge, teams raced to test their map reading skills. Given envelopes with specific prompts such as “find and circle two park ranger stations” or “find and circle two places where visitors can fish in the park,” students raced to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park map, one at a time, to complete the task. When all team members found and circled their items, they could then move on to the next challenge.
Skins and bones greeted APS students at a third challenge in the race. Given cards with photographed animals, animal pelts, and animal skulls, students were challenged with matching the similar animal items together (ex. Deer picture, with deer pelt, and deer skull). When all items were correctly matched, students could move on to the next challenge.
The final challenge was for students to take a picture of their team at the campus scenic overlook. Cardboard Ranger P. Danger greeted students along their journey and prompted them to follow the correct trail. All three teams completed the challenge and hiked up and down the steep terrain. Teams were so efficient that all three made it back to the finish line at exactly the same time! We are proud of each and every one of the students.
After a delicious lunch provided by our EEC chefs, students were joined by Kyle Snyder from the WICK poetry center in Kent. He led students through a guided poetry exercise which had students think and write about winter. Many students stood up and shared their poetry for the group; we were thoroughly impressed with the wonderful words the students wrote.
And, what better way to end the day, than with everyone making and eating s’mores. Though it was too cold for an outdoor fire, we built a nice and toasty one in the Legacy Room fireplace. All in all, it was a beautiful day to be out and exploring the wonders of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We look forward to having APS students out again for our spring excursion.