A group of students began their summer breaks making sidewalk chalk from plaster and toothpaste from baking soda – all in the name of science.
Belmont University and Kayne Avenue Missionary Baptist Church partnered for a one-month academic enrichment summer camp sponsored by the University’s Office of Community Relations and Department of Education to benefit children ages six to 12 living in the Edgehill neighborhood.
“Our motto this summer was ‘resilient children work well, play well, love well and expect well,’” said camp director Kathy Turner, an instructor in the Department of Education. “We are trying to build resiliency into the Edgehill neighborhood and teach children how to deal with life’s problems.”
Belmont’s Department of Education designed the curriculum for the camp, making it academic in nature while emphasizing literacy and self-confidence. The camp was planned in weekly themes: health and safety, science and nature, music and arts, history and culture.
“We really tried to focus on literacy activities… kids reading and using skills to learn in a fun environment. We made it hands on so we’re learning and not just doing worksheets,” Turner said. “This enrichment summer camp is a great program that everyone would love to see continue and grow.”
Campers participated in science experiments, music and art projects, history and culture activities. They also took field trips to the Nashville Zoo, Owl Hill Nature Sanctuary, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Bicentennial Mall State Park as well as weekly walks to the Edgehill Branch of the Nashville Public Library.
Playing with traveling trunks from the Tennessee State Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the children learned about former President Andrew Jackson, guitars and banjos.
“This summer has been about how to use analysis and critical thinking and team work. I’m about engaging versus just reading a book. The touching and feeling will help them remember what they learned,” said camp counselor Monique Cadet, who graduated from Belmont in May with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching. Undergraduate biology student Gabrielle Hampton also worked as a counselor.
“We know that we have many children in this area who are unsupervised during the usual work day hours in the summer and so we wanted to offer working families some sort of support for supervision as well as the academic component to enhance learning from the school year,” said the Rev. Vincent Campbell, Kayne pastor and Belmont trustee.
In a community where many youth do not have access to summer programs because of costs and transportation, the Belmont and Kayne partnership provided them with supervision, two nutritious meals, academic learning and “fun play with the goal of physical health,” Campbell said.