Written by Michael Lidwin
The recent partnership between the Haslam Scholars Program and Inskip Elementary School is the result of a long-standing effort. Although this year marks the start of two new HSP programs at Inskip Elementary, the initial concept began with a recent alumna of the program. This collaboration serves as a living legacy of the hard work generations of Haslam Scholars have invested in both the program and the community. This partnership has become one of the strongest aspects of the Haslam Scholars service initiative, and my favorite part of being a Haslam Scholar.
HSP clubs at Inskip Elementary represent teamwork across multiple cohorts, undergraduate students, and alumni.
The idea for a service project at Inskip began with the creativity of HSP Associate Director, Dr. Sylvia Turner; HSP alumna, Katie Rogers; and Community School Coordinator, Blaine Sample. The three proposed the groundwork for a Lego League chapter in the spring of 2016. My cohort was then invited to join the planning and help implement the project as part of a cohort-wide service initiative.
With the addition of the newest cohort, the impact of the Inskip Saturday programs continues to unify the Haslam Scholars and better the community.
Working across cohorts to plan the Lego League Program has been a fun opportunity to grow as a group of scholars and friends. Lego League is a stimulating adventure that features competitions and research projects from a national Lego League curriculum. While we ultimately chose not to compete in the December Lego League competition, we are spending the year going through the Lego League challenges, learning alongside the team of students. This has given us the opportunity to focus on forming relationships with students and team building exercises.
One of my favorite parts about starting a club at Inskip is combining aspects of volunteering that I enjoyed at Pond Gap with the fun new ideas we get from our HSP curriculum. For example, in addition to hosting a Lego League, my fellow cohort members and I initiated the Cultural Saturday program where we utilize knowledge from our foreign language classes. Once a month, elementary school students are invited to travel the world with us as we organize activities based on a chosen country, such as Brazil and Mexico. It is rewarding to take an active role in volunteering, where we both plan and implement activities for the Saturday event.
More than anything, hosting clubs at Inskip Elementary is beneficial for us as scholars. It gives us the opportunity to help foster a love of learning in the students.
For example, elementary school students are learning about STEM and foreign languages, while scholars are learning leadership skills and discovering subjects that interest them. Through volunteering, I am discovering what aspects of my own education I am most interested in, around which I can plan various activities for the students at Inskip. My favorite activity during Cultural Saturday is the arts and crafts station. No matter how simple the activity is, art has become a stress-reliever in my school day and an awesome way to share an interest with younger students.
Looking forward, we will continue exploring places such as Morocco, France, China, and Italy through Cultural Saturdays. In addition, we will to host a robot extravaganza for the Lego Program, where we will feature the robot programming, demonstrate the challenges we completed, and give the students an opportunity to present their inventions from the research project portion of the Lego League curriculum. I’m excited to see how these programs will continue to evolve and look forward to more collaboration between the Haslam Scholars Program and the Knox County community schools.