"Wow Week" could become learning tool for local schools
You could hear the sounds of laughing and wonder every step of the way; the soundtrack of "Wow Week" at Lordstown Elementary School.
It's an idea hatched by Oh Wow! in Youngstown, trying to expand the center's reach and share a love of science and technology with a new crowd.
"We needed to find some different avenues to draw in more schools and districts that hadn't been to Oh Wow! in the past seven to eight years," said Oh Wow's director of education Ralf Urbach, known as Mr. Ralf.
Lordstown was more than willing to step up, carving out a week-long series for kids in Kindergarten through sixth grade. They spent three days at Oh Wow: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then had Mr. Ralf bring Oh Wow to them on Tuesday and Thursday.
"Learning is meant to be fun," said Lordstown elementary school principal Rich Zigarovich. "Kids should be laughing. Kids should be enjoying themselves, and this is an opportunity kind of outside the box a little bit for our kids and our teachers for that matter because I think the teachers had a great time."
Lordstown schools, in particular, might be the perfect fit to help kick this idea off, because it gave them a chance to show off their brand new STEM center.
"It gives us the opportunity for students to learn technology, but also a maker space where you make something," said Lordstown Superintendent Terry Armstrong. "We like to call it the click and the brick. You have the click with the computer and the brick. Kids are able to use their hands, build things, learn how things work."
"I think it's so important for kids today to learn using their hands, figuring things out, problem-solving, communicating with each other. I think that's so critical, and that's a skill that all kids can benefit from," said Zigarovich.
"Upcycling and recycling and taking advantage of things that you would just literally find in the cupboards, sometimes in the trash," said Urbach.
A full week of school, dedicated to opening some young minds about what's possible in this world, an idea that has Oh Wow thinking big as well.
"Eventually, down the road we'd love to see individual schools have their own Wow Week," said Urbach. "Austintown can have their Wow Week, and Liberty can have theirs. We can get out to Lakeview and have them do theirs. Essentially it would be great if, throughout the whole entire year, each school had their own week."
Keep in mind; this idea is still very much in the beginning stages. The feedback from this first attempt has been overwhelmingly positive, so they plan to build off that experience.
Lordstown Elementary School debuted its new STEM Center this year, using a $20,000 grant to convert a space that had previously just been banks of unused lockers. The room is now used regularly by teachers and their classes in an evolving maker space that is still considered to be in just the first phase of the project.