USI’s Super Summer provides hands-on learning for youth


University of Southern Indiana’s Center for Education Services held a pair of week-long Super Summer sessions for children and adolescents on campus, and at Dexter Elementary School in June and July. The programs were available during two sessions for children in PreK—ninth grade.

Two of the programs offered during the second summer session were ¡OLÉ!, a class exploring the Hispanic world through art projects, language, cooking and culture; and Material World, which allowed students to experiment with the physical and chemical properties of the world around them. The student-teacher interaction during these sessions was designed to be both experiential and fun.

Lorenna Boyle, a teacher at Evansville Day School, and Betsy Dailey, a local artist and teacher at Evansville Day School, teamed up for ¡OLÉ!. During the program, students in grades three through five created albrijes, clay sculptures painted in vibrant colors, after the Hispanic tradition started by Pedro Linares in the 1900s. The students also practiced Spanish language while cooking meals and learning about Hispanic traditions.

“The students were very excited to hear stories about Mexican art and culture,” said Boyle. “They were beaming with pride when they showcased their albrijes.”

Boyle is a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and has taught English as a second language for several years. One of her favorite parts of the program was helping students cook Mexican dishes.

Jeff Seyler, chair of the Chemistry Department at USI, taught the Material World program. Students examined the flow of energy in melting and boiling processes, density and chemical interactions in liquids, and reactivity of metals and molecules. Seyler also assisted the students with safely-conducted experiments using non-toxic detergents, and cleaning agents that can be found in the everyday household.

“It’s great to see kids so enthusiastic about learning,” said Seyler. “We do our best to make the classes as fun and interactive as we can. The kids seemed to enjoy mixing chemicals together.”

Super Summer is an educational program through USI’s Center for Education Services and Partnerships, a division of Outreach and Engagement. The Center for Education Services and Partnerships works with schools and community partners to provide quality educational opportunities to students, teachers, and parents. Super Summer has occurred annually since 1981 and involves faculty from several schools in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation