A plume of mist lifts from a stainless steel mixing bowl as Doug Shenk from the Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream exploration demonstrates the science behind making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. A crowd of delighted teachers observe with rapt attention. What could inspire busy teachers, at the beginning of the school year, to watch a science experiment on a Saturday morning? Ed-stravaganza, an event sponsored by Sarasota County Schools and EdExploreSRQ to promote the diverse experiential learning explorations made available to teachers and students in Sarasota County through EdExploreSRQ.
Ed-stravaganza brought together almost 50 representatives from artistic, cultural, and scientific explorations so that teachers K-12 could learn more about in-school and site based experiential learning activities available to them and their students. Throughout the course of the day, teachers had a chance to connect with providers and community supporters by visiting their booths or experiencing their demonstrations. Teachers gushed about the explorations they’d learned of that day and how they envisioned making these experiences an integral part of their classrooms and curricula. One teacher who had never been to Ed-stravaganza before shared her excitement that she’d found Diamond Del Gem Mining, an engaging project that allows students to learn about rock and mineral classification and identification. She plans to bring this exploration to her school for her sixth graders who will be studying geology this year. Another teacher delighted in imagining how her elementary students would react to the fantastical story telling of Donna Wissinger, a Teaching Artist who provides a lively musical and dramatic introduction to legendary heroes and Greek mythology All of the providers delivered enthralling and informative presentations that impressed teachers with their diversity and purpose. Not only are these explorations a chance for enhancing academics but also a way for students to be exposed to culturally significant works like Romeo and Juliet that students can see at the Asolo Repertory Theater this fall.
The excitement that pervades Ed-stravaganza comes from EdExploreSRQ’s unique community collaboration between the Sarasota County School District, Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and The Patterson Foundation for the benefit of all Sarasota County students. By harnessing the strengths of each of these organizations, teachers and students in Sarasota County Public Schools are able to experience a variety of incredible explorations. Ed-stravaganza reveals how magic can happen for students when community members come together.