The Olympic theme song blared through the speakers as students marched in a processional into the Timberline Elementary School (TES) courtyard. Flags and posters were made to represent their designated countries and a buzz resonated throughout the crowd. A hush fell over the group as their special guest, NBC Olympic Announcer Lewis Johnson, welcomed everyone to the inaugural fourth-grade Olympic boat races.
While they had a different look than the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the energy and excitement was there as students got ready to race the boats they created during the Project Based Learning (PBL) activity about properties of matter.
“Leading up to the races, we created a sink and float station to check for buoyancy and allowed students to test the materials they brought to make their structure,” said fourth-grade teacher Jeanette Fink. “We also measured matter including the length, width and mass of the materials used.”
Once the boat structures were created, it was time to put them to the test in a good-old-fashioned race. Since this was an athletic event of sorts, the fourth-grade teachers at TES called on Johnson, who is a parent in GCISD, to bring some authenticity and knowledge to the event.
“Lewis loves to talk to the kids about the importance of education and the value of learning to work together as a team,” Fink said. “He parallels their school experiences to his experiences in television and in life. It was especially fun to have him after the Olympics because so many of the kids had seen him this summer interviewing athletes in London.”
When the races were over, Johnson presided over a medal ceremony where students representing Venezuela won gold, El Salvador won silver and China won bronze.
The TES Boat Olympics are a prime example of how GCISD is promoting global citizenship, involving community members and structuring student-driven learning – all key components of the district’s LEAD 2021 strategic plan.