Taking Action and Caring for the Community camp leaders and participants visited a local landfill on Monday, July 26.

EDWARDSVILLE - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Taking Action and Caring for the Community summer camp isn’t just teaching children what to think, it’s teaching them how to think for themselves and make the world a better place by tackling real-world problems through hands-on activities.

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Students from grades 3-8 are participating in the new camp, running June 26-30. It is offered by the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior (SEHHB), and the Office of Educational Outreach. Campers are utilizing technology, creating crafts and exploring the outdoors as they learn about such topics as food waste and water quality.

“This camp follows the problem, solution and take action model,” said Amy Wilkinson, program manager with the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at SIUE. “Every day we’re identifying a real-world problem. We’re looking at current solutions and brainstorming our own. Then the students are taking action and visiting different community sites.”

On Monday, campers visited a local landfill where they learned about trash layering processes and wildlife preservation. Throughout the week, they’ll visit SIUE’s Campus Kitchen to gain knowledge on food waste and food shortage, and explore the Watershed Nature Center where they will learn how to preserve natural water lands in urban communities. Additionally, a representative from a local animal shelter will visit the campers and educate them on its catch and release program.

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Campers happily engaged in a hands-on activity that taught them about the layering processes at landfills.

“As a teacher, you can have such an impact on kids, even in a small amount of time,” said Kayla Carlisle, the camp’s lead teacher, who earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from SIUE in May. “These students are the future of our planet. It’s important to help them identify problems and solutions that will impact their community and the world.”

The camp also aligns with the state of Illinois’ civic initiative, which is introducing new social science standards in schools.

“Taking Action and Caring for the Community is about character building and team building,” added Barbara O’Donnell, PhD, professor in the SEHHB Department of Teaching and Learning. “This summer, we want to make sure that learning is fun and engaging, so that when they return to their classrooms, they’ll be motivated to continue participating in important community outreach efforts.”

The SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior prepares students in a wide range of fields including public health, exercise science, nutrition, instructional technology, psychology, speech-language pathology and audiology, educational administration, and teaching. Faculty members engage in leading-edge research, which enhances teaching and enriches the educational experience. The School supports the community through on-campus clinics, outreach to children and families, and a focused commitment to enhancing individual lives across the region.

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