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Freedom School Helps Durham's At-Risk Students
Editor's Note: Gabriel Aikens is a student at NC Central University who is working this summer with Duke's Office of News and Communications.
Durham, NC - A formula for summer learning that turns it into a cool and tasty experience: Dip ice cream into liquid nitrogen. Be astonished by the chemical change. Then eat, and laugh loud.
In a boisterous corner of West Campus recently, 80 second and third graders in the Duke University/Children's Defense Fund Freedom School found that to be a winning formula for keeping kids on track for learning during the summer and fostering a love for reading and exploring.
The lesson had the students create frozen concoction similar to Dippin' Dots, by dropping the ice cream into a container of liquid nitrogen. The program's supervisors safely handled the liquid nitrogen and the students were able to eat their creations after the nitrogen hardened the ice cream.
"It's so cold that it burns? That doesn't make any sense," said second grader Shannon Murphy. She and the other children were perplexed and fascinated.
"It makes this summer really cool," said Jorge Castillo Hernandez, a 3rd grader from E.K. Powe Elementary School who wants to be an astronaut. "I like all the fun stuff we do like going to the museum, going to the pool, and making crafts."
The Children's Defense Fund, a national non-profit organization, developed the Freedom Schools model for students who are at risk of losing academic ground during the summer. There are more than 100 Freedom Schools throughout the country, all with a main focus on reading.
"The books chosen for the children are from a committee of well-respected educational leaders and activists," says Lindsay Naylor, program coordinator for Duke's Office of Durham and Regional Affairs. Naylor helped acquire funding for the program, which is now in its second year at Duke. "The books are meant to give the children different perspectives of cultures and the world."
These books include "A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall" by David Adler and "Biblioburro: a True Story of Colombia " by Jeanette Winter. Each deals with themes such as family, community, hope and education.
Besides reading every day, the students engage in a variety of activities while on campus, including visiting science labs.
One day the students learned how to make polyurethane foam, a form of insulation. One of the favorite activities among students and staff is 'harambee,' a morning routine that involves motivational songs, cheers and chants, classmate recognitions, and community read-aloud guests. Harambee is a Swahili term for "all pull together."
Guest readers include Duke Vice Provost and Undergraduate Dean Steve Nowicki, Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats, and Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield.
Pictured below: Making sundaes proved to be a great way to learn about chemistry. Bottom, Freedom School students listen to a morning lecture. Photos by Gabriel Aikens.
Duke University's Freedom School
Duke University's Freedom School
Held on West Campus, the Duke University CDF Freedom Schools program aims to provide local students an engaging, enriching summer experience that not only helps to prevent summer learning loss but further builds reading comprehension and a love of reading.
© 2013 Office of News & Communications
615 Chapel Drive, Box 90563, Durham, NC 27708-0563
(919) 684-2823; After-hours phone (for reporters on deadline): (919) 812-6603