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Cool Schools: MLK STEAM Academy hosts Ecosystem Week

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. –

Elementary students at MLK STEAM Academy are learning more about what goes on outside their school walls.

A new idea from administration called Ecosystem Theme Week was designed to engage students in learning. It also coincided with parent/teacher conference week.

“We want to give the parents the incentive to come on in,” said Principal Dr. John VanDyke.

This week, four halls were transformed into four different ecosystems. It’s part of an effort to merge fun and learning.

“Instead of always book, paper and pencil, we try to do a lot of fun things too,” said Stacey Johnson, a special education teacher at MLK Elementary.

There were four themes: coral reef, ocean, tropical rainforest and grassland.

“We’re just having so much fun with this whole idea,” said Cameron, a fifth-grade student at MLK Elementary.

The students were responsible for researching animals belonging to each ecosystem. They then drew them and hung them up on the walls.

“Since we got the grassland we are hanging up like buffalo, giraffes, zebras, stuff like that,” said Cameron.

While students say it’s a fun way to learn about animals, teachers say it’s a way to let the kids be creative and learn to work together.

“They’re not used to working with others,” said Johnson. “So I’m hoping that they’ll learn a sense of working together and being proud of the finished product.”

Those halls will be judged on Thursday by the school’s superintendent. The four teams will be judged on originality, inclusivity, accuracy, connection to standards and the overall presentation.

The winner will receive a game of musical chairs in their hallway.

“I play the guitar and I’m going to play a hall-wide musical chairs with the winner,” said Dr. VanDyke. “So we’re going to have over 100 kids that are going to play musical chairs with yours truly, with live music.”

The winner will be announced Thursday.

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