(07/24/2001)
Story and photos By Dan Cosgrove

If Calhoun County seemed a little quieter on Friday, July 20, you may be right. Over 170 of your friends and neighbors were missing that day as students, teachers, and mentors from the Summer Academy and Energy Express programs at the elementary schools, and the Middle School's summer program, traveled to Columbus, Ohio to visit COSI.

COSI is an incredible science and technology center-museum providing hands-on, interactive science exhibits. From dinosaurs to space exploration, students got an understanding of science no book could ever supply.

Students grasped the importance of simple machines as they used a lever to lift a car in the air. Some were shocked when they used a computer to see how they might look in 40 years (I didn't go near that computer!). Others enjoyed seeing the many uses of water and how we harness water power. The activities were too many to list.

True, there were too many activities to list them all, but let me tell you about the Space Exhibit! Danger awaited students as they entered the Space Exhibit. To get into the main exhibit area, students walked across a narrow platform as stars traveled quickly around them. The platform moved precariously back and forth at what seemed more than 90 degrees at times.

Students held on for dear life, some crawled, most hung on to each other for support, and a few felt nauseous (sea sick--no, space sick) as they made their way across. I felt like a hero when I carried two students to safety, and was looking around for a Medal of Honor, or some award to mark my heroism, when we found out it was an optical illusion. Nothing moved!

We must have looked pretty silly stumbling and crawling across a bridge (not to mention me carrying two students) that wasn't moving an inch. We all got a lesson on how the mind work - or sometimes doesn't!

The trip was funded by Lights On!, the 21st Century grant the county recently received. I found out on this trip what "Lights On" really means. I thought it only meant keeping the lights on in schools during the evening and weekends to give people in the community a place to go and learn, but after seeing the student's excitement and their eyes shining with delight and wonder, well, like I said, I know now what it really means.

The teachers and mentors must be commended for their outstanding work throughout the trip. Students were in groups no larger than five, with 1 or 2 teachers or mentors. Many of the groups walked around together and schedules were followed to the letter.

The bus drivers performed "above and beyond", expertly navigating the streets of Columbus during rush hour, not to mention the construction that was everywhere. They also made critical decisions when confronted with bumper- to-bumper traffic at Mineral Wells ,because of an accident and people heading to a fair in the area

. A special well done to Jan Whited, Arnoldsburg's Energy Express director, part of the "advance team" that went ahead of the buses to arrange breakfast at the first stop. Jan ensured tickets and lunch were ready as the students arrived at COSI, and moved students quickly through dinner at McDonalds. A gracious "THANK YOU" to family members who waited so patiently for the students to return.

Here is just a token of the many activities enjoyed by Calhoun County students during their visit to COSI in Columbus, Ohio last Friday.


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