2007 Excellence in Engagement Grants
Building Community: Creating Sustainable Childhood Learning Environments ($50,000)
Lisa Tilder, Associate Professor, Knowlton School of Architecture, College of Engineering
This project proposes the design and construction of a series of interactive educational playground structures within the Early Childhood Learning Center’s experiential outdoor learning environment for 2007-2008. Architecture honors students will collaboratively build one interactive learning structure per year, with community partners, consultants and members of the community. Currently, a small pilot program is underway, which should contribute to the success of initiating this proposal over the next two years. This environmentally conscious design/build project will serve as an Ohio State honors project within the Knowlton School of Architecture. In partnership with the Early Childhood Learning Center and Urban Wild, students will have the opportunity to design and construct a series of small, interactive outdoor learning structures. This project will introduce students of architecture to principles of service-learning, sustainable design, and construction.
Engaging Fruit and Vegetable Growers in Enhanced Food Safety Practices through Audience Tailored Risk Communication ($60,000)
Doug Doohan, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center; Partners: Jeff LeJeune, Food Animal Health Research Program, OARDC; Hal Kneen, Eric Barrett, Andy Kleinschmidt, Terry Kline, and Mike Gastier, OSU Extension; John Wargowsky, Ohio Farm Bureau; Shari Plimpton, CIFT/EISC, Inc.
Recent events and media coverage have thrust the risks associated with fresh produce into the public eye. These outbreaks and the resulting consequences for the industry have revealed a significant disparity between the need of produce growers for relevant educational programs in food safety and the ability of land-grant universities and other educational stakeholders to deliver. The long-term goal of this project is to promote adoption of farming and produce handling practices that will result in a safer food supply and a more robust agricultural economy in Ohio. The specific objective is to train Ohio produce farmers and gardeners in currently available control measures and practices, using learning strategies that will increase adoption.
The project focused on reaching small to medium-size farmers, especially those who do not participate in Extension and grower-association educational programs. Outreach also focused on Master Gardeners who influence the practices used in thousands of noncommercial gardens. To date informational and education programs have reached 555 Ohioans.
A unique characteristic of this program is delivery of education in the small, rural communities where underserved audiences live. University educators have been able to interact with small, part-time farmers (including many first-time produce growers) who never attend regional and statewide programs. Three types of programs are being provided:
- a 15-minute ‘teaser’ to inform participants about issues of fruit and vegetable safety facing their business, with an invitation to participate in more in-depth training (330 participants to date)
- a 1-hour program that covers issues and basic good agricultural practices (GAPS) for food safety (75 participants)
- an in-depth 2-hour workshop including GAPS training and hands-on activities to enhance learning (150 participants)
Many participants did not understand the unique educational role of OSU Extension and initially thought the educators were introducing a new on-farm regulatory process. Thus the project affords a unique opportunity to distinguish the university’s role from those of other public sector agencies.
Haiti Empowerment Project: Building a Stronger Educational System through Collaborations ($70,000)
Terri Teal Bucci, Department of Mathematics, OSU Mansfield; Partners: Benito Elementary School (Gallette, Haiti), FAITH Elementary School: Croix-des-Bouquets (Haiti), University of Notre Dame Haiti, University Caraibe (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
It is imperative that faculty in industrialized countries provide guidance to developing countries in the area of instruction. In a country where only 67% of children attend primary school and an average annual income is $400, Haiti is in desperate need of such intervention. There are three primary obstacles to the Haitian education: a lack of critical thinking, antiquated methods of teaching, and access to quality, sustained professional development. The Empowerment Project is addressing these obstacles through the development of the foundational understandings of problem solving and critical thinking (for both teachers and students) in the classroom, the implementation of school-embedded professional development with the addition of teacher coaches, and the creation of a professional learning community that is based on mutual respect and motivation for transformation.
Health and Wellness Initiative at Weinland Park: Move-Into-Learning ($30,000)
Jane Case-Smith, Professor, School of Allied Medical Professions, College of Medicine; Maryanna Klatt, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Allied Medical Professions, College of Medicine; Partners: Todd Rogers, Weinland Park Birth to Grade Five Project, Weinland Park Elementary School
Ohio State has taken a coordinated approach to address the complex needs of young children and their families in Weinland Park, a very economically distressed neighborhood near the university. This project was created not only serve this community, but to generate new knowledge and models about how to better serve families and children. The project created a health and wellness initiative and new partnership between the School of Allied Medical Professions and the Weinland Park Project. The goal was to establish a wellness program, Move-into-Learning, that includes music, movement, yoga, and meditation, as an ongoing program in the classrooms of Weinland Park Elementary School.
During the summer and autumn 2007, project staff created three CDs with movement and meditation instruction and music background and developed a thematic weekly program to be implemented at the school. The project directors worked with the school principal to identify the schedule and the class that would be involved. A second-grade class of 29 was identified, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and many with significant behavioral issues, including very aggressive and disruptive behaviors. The 8-week program provided daily yoga, movement crossing the body’s midline, and guided mindfulness meditation to help the children become more attentive, feel more centered, and improve their classroom behavior.
The program consisted of a daily 15-minute yoga, movement, and meditation session led by the teacher, using the CDs. Once a week, Drs. Klatt and Case-Smith provided a full hour program of yoga, movement, and meditation. Each week had a theme that supported healthy living, self-worth, and self-efficacy. The goal was to give the children tools and strategies that would empower them to cope with stress and feel positive about themselves. By enhancing their sense of self and feeling of being in control, their behaviors toward others can become more positive.
To assess the effects of the yoga/meditation program, the students were videotaped during the classroom session one hour before the weekly sessions and immediately afterward. Project staff will measure the behaviors of some of the children who often demonstrated disruptive and negative behaviors (measuring out-of-seat and talking out behaviors). Although the videotapes have not yet been analyzed, the children’s and teacher’s feedback about the program has been very positive. They demonstrated eagerness to do the Move-into-Learning program on a daily basis in the classroom, and became increasingly more engaged during the weekly sessions with a decrease in disruptive behaviors. The teacher felt that the program has had a positive effect on the students. She intended to continue doing the daily 15-minute CD with the children after the 8-week intervention ended.
Benefits of partnering with Weinland Park Elementary in the Move-into-Learning program include the following:
- With development of the CDs and the thematic weekly program, the program can easily be replicated and/or disseminated. The project will continue next year with two additional classrooms.
- This project aligns with the university’s commitment to partner with the university-area community by providing a positive interdisciplinary educational program.
- Five undergraduate and graduate students experienced an important service-learning opportunity.
- Analysis of the students’ behavior before and after the program will provide information about the effects of the Move-into-Learning program and its potential benefit to elementary school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Based on feedback from teachers and students, the Move-into-Learning program has been a highly positive, beneficial experience that was successfully integrated into the school day.