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North Pole Nature Academy gives kids hands-on outdoors education

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 4:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Learning programs and summer camps are in full swing this month, and some students at North Pole Elementary are spending their summer break outside learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM concepts.

Summer Program Coordinator at North Pole Elementary Jennifer Wienke says the kids experience a wide variety of activities within the program. “North Pole STEM and Nature Academy is a combination of students from North Pole Elementary, Ticasuk Brown Academy, as well as North Pole Middle School Students. We get together every day for 3 weeks and we have program. Hours from 8:30 in the morning to 3:00 p.m., where we do a variety of activities that help focus on hands-on learning.”

Wienke said students range in age and education level from kindergarten to 6th grade. “We do lots of things outdoors. So we do a lot of nature hikes, we do a lot of science things, we did a weather unit at the beginning of our program this summer. We also do a lot of art, and art based around nature. We also offer cooking every day for all of the students. We do 3D printing as an activity that we can do indoors, as well as lots and lots of PE.”

The North Pole Middle School class explored nearby forests, collecting samples of Alaska’s flora and fauna to assemble their own small biospheres.

Paul Hawkin, a student in the program said, “I found a fly in the ant’s mouth while I was walking, and I grabbed the ant and put it in the biosphere.”

Wienke continued, “For some of the children this is the first time they’ve been in school all day. For our kindergarten students, they haven’t attended a full day of school yet. For our older students, it’s giving them a good chance to socialize and be with friends again for a longer period of time.”

The North Pole STEM and Nature Academy will run again next year in 2022, and Wienke said there may also be a program specifically run by your child’s school that you can sign them up for. “Contact and start with the front office at your school to find out what different summer programs are available. There are a lot of different programs right now currently for all students.”

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