Hands-on learning on display at rural magnet program – Coastal Observer


Hands-on learning on display at rural magnet program

Third-graders at Pleasant Hill Elementary use Lego blocks to study earthquakes.

The Georgetown County School District’s magnet school program is in full swing and it has teachers and students in the Carvers Bay area thinking outside the box, like using Legos in lessons.

Pleasant Hill Elementary School principal Lee Glover said his students “absolutely love” building with Legos.

“Because it’s project based, they’ve able to articulate and develop those soft skills And they’re collaborating,” Glover said. “That’s what we want.”

Third-grader Everrette Owens learned about gravity by building a Lego car and a ramp for it to traverse. Everrette learned that the steeper the ramp, the faster the car reached the table.

“If we didn’t have gravity we would be floating and because of our Earth’s gravity, when things go downhill [they] get faster,” he said.

Everrette and his classmates showed off their projects at an an open house for family members last month.

Another class studied earthquakes by attaching a cable from a battery powered motor to a platform. After they built a structure made of Legos on the platform, they turned the motor on, which turned the cable and shook the platform. That allowed the students to see how sturdy a structure needs to be to not collapse during an earthquake.

“It is very important that we keep students engaged but also help them to understand that with that engagement and fun, there’s learning. There’s learning and it’s fun,” said Brantay Cohens, Pleasant Hill’s lead magnet teacher. “I believe learning should be fun.”

Other projects included building a device to communicate over a long distance using light and sound; building a robot and creating the coding so it could move under its own power; and building a motorized fan powerful enough to topple a paper tower.

“The beauty of all of this is they’re having fun learning. They’re working with their classmates to problem solve and to debug problems,” said Constance May, the magnet program director. “To me, I wish I had that in school.”

Glover believes if students see the “why” of the things they’re studying their grades and test scores will improve.

“With what we’re providing our children, the hope is that they understand why they need to learn reading, math, science and social studies, and how those things fit together,” he said. “We want to make it a cross-curriculum themed form of instruction for them.”

May agrees.

“That is our hope, overall, that they form that level of learning,” she said.

While Pleasant Hill has transitioned into a STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, math) academy, Brown’s Ferry Elementary is now a creative and performing arts school.

Principal Tawanna Grant said parents and students are excited.

“We started off a little fast and then we had to slow down, but it’s going well. It’s definitely a learning curve,” Grant added. “It’s a learning curve for all of us but it’s definitely a ride worth taking. The end goal for what these kids are about to experience, it’s beyond immeasurable.”

Like Glover and May, Grant  believes the magnet program will help improve her students’ grades and test scores.

“I am definitely sure that this is going to pique the interest of our kids. It’s also going to help a lot of kids to discover their interest because they don’t always know what’s out there,” Grant said. “When we provide these leaning opportunities for them it’s not just about college, it’s about career, it’s about interests. So we’re also meeting the needs and the interests of our children.”



Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us. Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org. Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com.   , .