MOUNT VERNON — Imagination, curiosity, creativity and hard work on the part of gifted pupils, combined with patient, talented guidance from Kenyon College students, resulted in an amazing array of special projects completed as part of the autumn Kenyon Mentorship program.
The Kenyon Mentorship program is a collaborative effort among the Knox County Educational Service Center, local school districts and the Off-campus Activities Program in Psychology of Kenyon College. The program pairs select elementary pupils with Kenyon student volunteers for a concentrated look at a topic of the pupil’s choice.
A culminating “Tea,” held Thursday, gave each team the opportunity to share the results of their research with family, friends, educators and other students in the mentorship program.
This fall’s participants from Centerburg, under the mentorship of Heather Amato, were fourth-graders Olivia Kelley, Luke Stupka and Olivia Gregory. They produced a news broadcast about endangered animals. Luke served as the on-air commentator while both Olivias served as reporters in the field or expert researchers on location talking about endangered animals. The video production included music, sound effects, credits and out-takes.
Danville Elementary School presenters included Daniel Patrick, grade four. His mentor was Jordan Brooks and their project title was “Ancient Roman Civilization.” Using a poster as a prompt, Patrick talked about things such as Roman architecture, religion and warfare.
Brooks also served as a mentor for Kaleigh Loyd, Danville, grade four, who presented information about cane toads and poison dart frogs.
Danville first-grader Jesse Parker built a Ferris wheel with the assistance of mentor Karen Huntsman, who said she really did not provide all that much assistance; and mentor Anna Wilhelm guided fourth-graders Wade Mickley, Aubrey Runyon and Garren Wills in a venture comparing the cultures of Japan, Russia and India.
Also from Danville, Koen Phillips and Landen Clifton, grade two, teamed up with mentor Louisa Ashford to explore the topic, “Jungle Animals.” They prepared a poster about the theme and also had a shadow box complete with miniature animals.
Kaley Ackert, grade four, Danville, made an almost-to-scale model of our solar system with the help of mentor Lindsay Watts. Kelley also gave a report listing some of the interesting features of each planet and made it clear that Pluto is no longer considered to be a planet.
Mentor Marion Leslie assisted Danville second-graders C.J. Bechtel and Sammy Vincent in preparing a presentation called “The Science of Bikini Bottom — SpongeBob and Friends.” The project focused on the real-world animals, including plankton, on which the cartoon characters are based, and pointed out some of the things the cartoon characters do that the real animals do not or can not.
Leslie, a senior Psychology major at Kenyon College, said this was the first time she has served as a mentor.
“I liked it a lot,” she said. “It was a really great experience. It was really fun to work with the kids. I haven’t worked with kids this young before, so it was a new experience, and a really rewarding one. And I certainly learned a lot about SpongeBob. I was a novice on SpongeBob, but they were quick to teach me.”
Undersea animals were the focus of the work done by East Knox fourth-grader Kyndall Sullins and mentor Jen Brown. East Knox second-grader Sierra Arnal worked on a project about fossils with mentor Melissa Humphries, and made a replica of a fossil with coffee grounds and other materials.
East Knox first-grader Mitchell Williams studied baseball with the help of mentor Jamie Delaney. They researched whether a metal bat or a wooden bat would propel a baseball the farthest.
Mitchell said he liked working with his mentor. “It was fun,” he said. “It was a little bit easier than working with a real teacher.” He said he would jump at the chance to again work with a Kenyon student.
Fredericktown first-grader Caitlin McClaren, working with mentor Emily Saxe, learned about sea turtles, and third-grader Thomas Caputo completed a project on the Michigan Wolverines with the assistance of mentor Dan Kipp. Kipp warned the audience not to boo as Thomas began his power point presentation about “that team up north.”
Under the tutelage of Kenyon mentor Erika Thorn, Fredericktown third-graders Reece Cassetto and Kasey Carson created a baseball board game named “The Playoffs,” complete with rules and baseball-player figurines.
Kasey’s mother, Karen Meade, said the Kenyon mentor program has been a really good opportunity for her daughter.
“She learned a lot about baseball and had a good time doing it,” said Meade.
Fredericktown’s Cole Bartsch and Riley Woodell, grade two, worked on robots with their mentor Q Tashiro. Tashiro said the pair discussed the role robots play in our lives, designed and constructed a simple robotic device.
The mentorship program will resume next semester with a different group of pupils and mentors.
John Jurkowitz, gifted and talented consultant with the ESC, is the mentorship program coordinator, and Jen Brown and Anna Wilhelm are the OAPP student liaisons for Kenyon College.