Creative Classrooms

(Photo by Duane Zehr)

By Matt Hawkins
June 25, 2014

In one class, wide-eyed children cheered as homemade egg containers fell to the floor without smashing the contents. In another room, children intently focused on their latest Lego creation as a “World of Wonder” unfolded in their fingertips.

The classes, part of Bradley’s World of Wonder for gifted and talented elementary youth, brought more than 150 children to campus for a week in June. World of Wonder will also run August 4-8.

Connie Stromberger, teacher of the popular Lego class, enjoyed students’ creative abilities to address problems.

“It’s amazing how the things they come up with are all different. There isn’t a right answer in this class,” she said. “Legos can be a creative way of looking at the end product, individual pieces and problem-solving.”

The fast-paced, tactile activities explored math, science, reading and language arts. Students also learned teamwork and problem-solving skills in the environment, which featured airplanes, professional inventors and crime scene investigations among a long list of course offerings.

“These types of classes aren’t offered in school as much,” said WOW coordinator Michelle Riggio. “This is a chance to be around peers where it’s OK to feel intelligent, to explore and challenge their minds.”

Jen Bernitt ’95 has taught WOW courses for more than two decades. She also worked WOW as an elementary education student aide during her undergraduate years on the Hilltop. She appreciated the chance to work with aspiring educators.

“As a student, it was nice to see teachers’ ideas and I’ve used those over the years,” she said. “Now, I like interacting with the college students as a mentor.”

Additionally, she proudly showed off her alma mater to potential future Braves.

“This is a great value for Bradley,” she said. “It’s a partnership with the community, plus kids see the campus and they get exposed to the idea of furthering their education.”

Since 1983, the Bradley University Institute for Gifted and Talented Youth and its predecessor, the Peoria County Foreign Language Immersion Program, have offered summer educational program opportunities for Central Illinois youth.