School program teaches children about construction and more

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Photo provided (From left): Fruzen Intermediate School students Jackson Hudson and Caiden Price work on an iPad during a virtual reality class offered at the Community Learning Centers after school program.

BELOIT - Students are testing out their construction skills and more at Fruzen Intermediate School's 21st Century Community Learning Center (CLC) after school program, according to sixth grade teacher and CLC Director Dee Dee Arp.

Recently 12 students participated in a construction class with Corporate Contractors Inc.'s (CCI) Lindsey Hartwig and Ty Huffman where they built a gaga court - an octagonal pit where students play a game akin to dodgeball.

After winter break, students began a series of eight construction classes. They built the pit on the stage in the school gym.

Arp said students and those with CCI constructed a plan and went over tool safety and blue prints. Then CCI created the brackets to hold the court's corners together and taught kids how structures work. With supervision, students were able to use drills in addition getting more familiar with nuts and bolts.

Students finished putting the structure together on Jan. 17. They took it apart and then re-constructed the pit out on the playground.

"They built something that is part of our school, and they are pretty excited about that," Arp said. "They have a hand in something everyone can use."

Students also created a video shown on the "Fruze News" to show other students how to play gaga ball.

Fruzen's CLC programming runs from 7:15 - 8:15 a.m. and from 3:45 - 5:45 p.m. There are about 100 of Fruzen's 600 students in the program.

It offers an array of classes including a virtual reality class through Stateline STEM for Kids where students learn computer programming.

In Spanish camp, students do crafts, art, music, pinata making and more tied to Spanish culture and language. Teacher Nivia Rodriguez incorporates many hands-on activities kids love, Arp said.

In Makersspace, kids are given the opportunity to design, experiment and build unique creations. Students have made everything from yarn art items to posters on upcoming events using graphic design principles.

Arp said in The City of Beloit will be offering a water education class called water works where kids will get to use a microscope to test water and take a field trip to the city's water treatment plant.

Fruzen is in its fourth year of the five-year grant. Cunningham and McNeel Intermediate schools have the program as well as Todd Elementary School. The program also incorporates reading and math in its offerings and teachers are encouraged to recommend students who might need extra support.

The program also offerings mentoring.

"Our ultimate goal is to help students do better in their classrooms," Arp said.

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