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Capital gains for young students in US trip

Principal Judy Smith (Front Left) of The Learning Express returns from her DC trip with students (front row) Steven (13) and Catherine (10) Camara (Siblings), Damien Martins (18) (top left), Tyanna Webb (16) (center) and Sylus Young (12) (Photo by Blaire Simmons)

Students attending an alternative school in Bermuda had a blast touring the capital of the United States.

The Learning Express Academy (LEA) pupils experienced first hand some of the monuments they had been learning about on the school’s first educational tour of Washington DC.

They were also treated to a visit of The Lab School in Washington, which caters to students with learning differences and disabilities with a multi-sensory, experiential and rigorous curriculum.

The learning experience was such a hit that several LEA teachers returned to the school to learn how to incorporate some of its methodology into their own educational environments.

“I thought it was an amazing experience to go see the Lincoln Memorial and the monuments,” said 16-year-old Tyanna Webb, who enjoyed “learning more about US history and actually experiencing it”.

As part of their tour, the students visited monuments including the White House, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Museum.

“I liked the Smithsonian Museum and how they had all the animals,” said 10-year-old Catherine Camara.

“It was cool seeing the monuments in person,” added Sylas Young, 12.

But visiting the Lab School of Washington was a definite highlight and a favourite for 18-year-old Damien Martins, who enjoyed the whole trip in May.

“Everyone was fascinated by the many creative projects that the students there were engaged in,” LEA principal Judith Smith said.

“The children were so enraptured with all their experiences, so polite and so well behaved that I would take them again,” she added.

The LEA is a small alternative school that caters for the whole spectrum of students, from special needs to highly gifted.

It has been involved in a collaborative effort with the Lab School of Washington for 15 years. Damien said he really enjoyed visiting the school and getting some hands-on experience in the workshop, whereas Tyanna had fun speaking to some of the students and viewing the art.

For Catherine, the artwork stood out as well, in particular a flower made out of plates, and Sylas enjoyed the architectural models.

“It was pretty cool — I didn’t know you could make that stuff,” Catherine said, referring to a papier-mâché Rosa Parks.

She added that her favourite part about the trip was learning “how creative you can be”. “You can have fun and learn at the same time,” she added.

Steven Camara, 13, was especially impressed with the science experiments, but also enjoyed seeing the artwork, and Sylas enjoyed the school’s hands-on teaching methods.

All of the students agreed that they would like to include some of the experiences in their own classes and would leap at the chance to get their hands on some of the art materials, as well as the more specialised workshop and computer equipment. The teachers who returned to the school had the opportunity to work and study during the Lab School’s summer camp programme.

They shared ideas on how to strengthen and reinforce their teaching strategies and how to incorporate some of the methodology into their own teaching environments.

This also included science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (Steam) projects.

“Steam, plus coding, are such essential components that need to become an integral part of our curriculum, as these lessons will become the key to so many careers for our students in the future,” Ms Smith said. According to Ms Smith, the LEA is hoping to focus more on these subjects and is collaborating with an electronics specialist to build a strong curriculum with an emphasis on Steam.