"Amazing" sets and opportunities to learn defined an Amazing Race event staged by Pittsburg State University students for elementary students in Liberal, Mo.
The event was engineered and organized by students in Pitt State's integrated technology for educators class, who built elaborate sets, created lesson plans and then spent the day teaching a full spectrum of humanities, math and sciences to kindergarten through sixth-grade students at Liberal's elementary school.
"This has been an extremely hard, but extremely wonderful project," said Byron McKay, a student at Pittsburg State who also has a child attending kindergarten at the elementary.
He said students began their day at the "airport" where they rode airplanes down a ramp and talked about scheduling and time.
From there, they traveled to Peru, where they learned grids and coordinates, as well as the culture.
Some of PSU's international students enjoyed the opportunity to share their traditions and nations with American students.
Students from Saudi Arabia taught about oil and integrated lessons on measuring and volume into the lesson, where they also had the opportunity to talk about how they live and work.
"This is a good opportunity," said PSU student Amani Zabrmawi, adding that it gives Saudi students a chance to teach children an image of her nation beyond the stereotypical, and inaccurate, picture that they live in tents in the desert and ride camels.
She said students had the chance to learn how to say hello and goodbye in Arabic and more about how the culture lives and what people use.
Elementary students also learned about buoyancy as they conducted boat races under the London Tower, took a rickshaw ride to China where they studied trajectories and launched catapults from the Great Wall, swam with the fish in the Great Barrier Reef and then took a canoe ride to Hawaii.
"We've been working on this all semester," McKay said, adding that the bulk of the work has taken place during build sessions the past few weeks.
Page 2 of 2 - Lessons and activities were planned in conjunction with teachers, who gave input on what they would like their students to learn.
Each grade then spent about 3.5 hours traveling 'round the world.
Mike Neden, associate professor in the department of technology and workforce learning, said his students have learned a lot with the project.
"These guys and gals are preparing to be teachers," he said. "I wanted to give them as many opportunities to interact with kids as we can."
Neden said students had to put together a lesson plan, and that each grade level requires a slightly different lesson.
"Once we talk to the teachers, we want to do some things to reinforce what we're trying to teach," Neden said. "We believe real strongly that learning should be fun and that it should be applied in a way that is meaningful and real."
Also attending was one very special guest, who conducted her own amazing race through Tulsa traffic Thursday morning in order to be present.
Rita Kendall said she and her late husband, J.C. Kendall, were teachers and created an endowment upon his death that helps offset the cost of some of the building involved in the projects, which take place each year.
She then travels to the event each year and participates along with the students.
"I enjoy it because I actually get with a group of students and see what they're learning," she said.
She said her husband would be proud of the legacy.
"He was an industrial arts and technology teacher," Kendall said. "He loved kids. He loved seeing them learn and he loved the excitement."