No Child Left Inside 2019

Cavazos Elementary outdoor learning day
By: Todd Martin

On a near-perfect first full day of spring, Cavazos Elementary School students and staff took maximum advantage, testing gravity with dropped fruit, conducting math and science outside and flying kites.
Through all the active, outdoor learning activities Thursday, school leaders made sure there was No Child Left Inside.
It all started with a good cause.
Students wearing pink and purple formed a ribbon and posed for a rooftop photo, drawing awareness to the upcoming Relay for Life that raises funds for cancer research. Next, chosen students hurled slime at their PE coaches as reward for raising $4,014 for the American Cancer Society.
Then, assembled students and teachers looked up as Principal Joseph Gullekson and teachers Brian Wadsworth and Dennis Marler provided their annual display of gravity at work, dropping fruits of varied sizes from the roof to show each falling at the same rate.
With the festivities completed, each grade level conducted math, science, reading and other activities outside.
Fifth-graders rotated through several stations. At one, Wadsworth sent out student teams to measure perimeter or figure the area of various spots on the playground and in the school garden.
On a paved area, Marler directed students to hold foam pieces together to form a track and send a marble from one end of the lot to another. They also used chalk to draw shadow outlines and recorded the time of day to observe the lengthening shadows.
Third-graders used tape and construction paper to design chairs, meant to serve as sturdier replacements for Goldilocks in the famous fairytale.
“What I like most is that they take what they learn and see a real-world application,” said Wadsworth. “It connects learning to life.”
As teams built their tracks, Marler urged them to work faster to finish before their peers. “I’m competitive,” he said, noting that the annual event was born out of a love for science and a competitive streak.
Twenty years ago, he first orchestrated an outdoor science day at Cedar Valley Elementary School. He expanded the tradition to Cavazos Elementary when it opened in 2009, and eventually spearheaded a district event that grew into the KISD Elementary Science Olympiad.
Now, the outdoor learning day at Cavazos incorporates varied academic disciplines across grade levels, celebrates cancer research fundraising and includes a kite-flying day.
“We’re doing all the school activities outside,” said fifth-grader Zain Cruz-Myers. “It’s good to be outside.” He said he enjoyed seeing the changing shadow lengths through chalk outlines.
“Today is about taking education into a different environment,” said fifth-grade Julian Ruiz. “It’s a different way to learn and it’s a very fun day. Kids look forward to being outside in the grass.”
“I think the change of environment relaxes students,” Wadsworth said. “They can enjoy learning. It also promotes unity. We can look around and see the other teachers because the classes are all together. The students see that, too.”
“I really appreciate the teachers doing this,” Ruiz said. “I think they see that sometimes kids just want to have fun.”
The fifth-grader said he was most drawn to math. “I like looking at real-world things,” he said. “Math is everything. Your heartbeat. Your breathing. If you know math, you know everything.”