Faith Johnson, a fourth-grader at Pine Street Elementary School, makes a tornado in a bottle during the Freaks of Nature class at the Winter Enrichment Camp on Wednesday. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS — School is out for most students and teachers in Rockdale County this week, but some students are continuing to learn over the winter break.
Nearly 150 elementary and middle school students in second through eighth grades are attending the Winter Enrichment Camp this week at the Rockdale Career Academy.
“It continues to be well-attended,” said Alex Alvarez, Academic Rigor coordinator for RCPS. “Parents are already asking about summer.”
The camps are generally held over extended breaks throughout the school year and summer for students who are demonstrating high levels of academic achievement. Registration fees are $50.
Earlier this year, RCPS invited 1,386 elementary students and 944 middle school students to the winter camp.
“I love to learn new things all the time, so this is fun to me,” said fourth-grader Brittany Young, who attends C.J. Hicks Elementary School.
She plans to teach her fellow students at C.J. Hicks what she learned in the Freaks of Nature class this week upon her return to school after the break.
Her class this week combined art and science to explore weather anomalies and climate and to study weather patterns of tornadoes and hurricanes. They also are using technology to create videos of mock meteorology reports.
Also at the camp, second-graders are studying the Hawaiian Luau through art and culture. They are learning about traditions, making food like pineapple upside down cupcakes and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, creating art, taking hula dancing lessons, singing traditional Hawaiian folk songs and speaking the language of Hawaii. They will hold a luau-style dessert celebration on the final day of class today.
Third-graders are learning about the Polar Adventure by exploring polar wildlife while making a penguin and a whale, learning about native Alaskan customs and creating an igloo.
Fifth-graders are attending a class called WOW! World of Wonder. In it, they will conduct hands-on science experiments and learn technology facts.
Alvarez said the fifth-grade science class and one of the middle school classes, STEM Quest, are focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. RCPS is developing elementary science-focused programs to feed into a Memorial Middle School science program that eventually may feed into the current Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology program.
He said students and parents have been interested in the science programs, so teachers are exposing students to different fields so they are prepared for the programs in the schools.
At the camp, another group of middle schoolers attends the class Cooking Up Culture, in which they learn how to make and eat exotic foods.
The class, taught by Travis Jones, has been regularly offered to middle school students over the years at Enrichment Camp and is well-attended. Many of the students in the class have attended it before, and past students have gone on to the culinary arts program at RCA, Jones said.
“(Cooking) helps you in the future with your family,” said Cody Barber, a sixth-grader from Conyers Middle School, who said he likes to cook, especially pancakes and other breakfast foods.
Alvarez said the system plans to hold two Enrichment Camp sessions in June, like last summer. Invitation letters will be sent out to students later this year.