|Deer Park ISD|
Evidence of Excellence
Today's Deer Park ISD students continue a long legacy of successfully competing in athletics, fine arts, and academic areas. But a group of elementary students is the District's first to compete in an entirely new arena: the Rubik's Cube competition. The competition is based on Speedcubing, or trying to solve a Rubik's Cube as quickly as possible. Students compete individually and in small groups tasked with solving a group of cubes. The fastest two students have logged times of 43 seconds and 48 seconds.
According to Fairmont Elementary Gifted and Talented Specialist Tracy Marshall, she and her fellow specialists came across the idea while attending a GT convention. Clubs were organized at FE, Carpenter Elementary, Dabbs Elementary, Deer Park Elementary, and San Jacinto Elementary. The students, representing grades three through five, auditioned for the 16 spots on the two District teams being organized. The teams will compete at the Houston Rubik's Cube Competition on March 25.
"The kids feel so accomplished once they succeed," Marshall said. "It seems to just encourage them to keep working to get faster. I also see a boost in their self-confidence once they realize they can do it, especially when adults start asking the students for help! I have even heard them compare some things we are doing in class to the steps used in the Rubik's Cube."
Created in 1974 and peaking in popularity in the early 1980s, the puzzle experienced renewed interest in the early 2000s. Since then, gifted and talented (GT) educators have focused on the puzzle's instructional value.
"In school, nonverbal intelligence is important because it enables students to analyze and solve complex problems without relying upon or being limited by language abilities," Marshall said. "Many mathematical concepts, physics problems, computer science tasks, and science problems require strong reasoning skills.
"Specifically, working with the cube helps improve memorization, pattern recognition, spatial awareness and problem-solving skills," she continued. "We teach the solution through a series of algorithms."
The Deer Park Elementary Student Council held a peanut butter and jelly drive this week benefiting the Deer Park Food Bank. Student Council sponsors Jake McNeely and Brittany Saultz organized the drive to give students an opportunity to get involved in the community. Saultz said she was extremely proud of the kids, who collected 12 boxes of donations containing a total of about 240 individual items. “We are helping people who live around us be able to eat nutritious food,” DPE Student Council President Azoney S. said.
Photos by DPE Campus Technology Integration Specialist Amy Carson
A group of Deer Park High School Career and Technical Education students recently participated in an Engineering Symposium. The annual event, which is supported by Shell Deer Park Engineering Department, gave the students the opportunity to spend time with four engineers from Shell representing four different engineering disciplines: Chemical/Process, Control, Electrical, and Mechanical. Each engineer spoke about the job he or she does at Shell as well as his or her educational history and work experience. During the latter half of the program, the students split into groups and visited with each engineer for a question and answer session.
The symposium concluded with a field trip to Shell Deer Park. During the two-hour event, students visited with the engineer of their choice and participated in a plant tour. “At the conclusion of the field trip, the students had a much better idea of what the engineers do on a daily basis and will utilize the knowledge gained to help make a wise career choice,” Director of CTE David Berrier said.
To celebrate National Read Across America Day, DPISD School Board Trustees Ken Donnell and Rhonda Lowe visited Deepwater Elementary to read to students. Both trustees read aloud from several favorites by treasured children’s author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. Read Across America was created by the National Education Association to encourage children to pick up a book and read.
DWE teacher Jocelyn Jones said the students benefit from hearing adults reading aloud from stories they know well. “Seeing such important people who also love to read does great things for our elementary learners,” she added. “Mr. Donnell and Mrs. Lowe have been so gracious over quite a few years to do this for us when their schedules allow.”
On Monday, a group of Bonnette Junior High students and employees volunteered at the Houston Food Bank. “We sorted 22,000 pounds of food for the Backpack Buddy program, which provides weekend meals for children in need,” BJH teacher Bethany Davis explained. “We took about 100 AVID students, who unpacked food from various food drives around the city, sorted the food into categories, and checked the expiration dates.”
The effort was coordinated by BJH teacher/coach Justin Kouba, who said the event was an important reminder about teens. “First, when students are shown what they need to do to accomplish a task, and it's modeled for them, they can flourish on their own,” Kouba explained. “Second, even though this generation, like generations before it, gets a bad rap for being lazy and narcissistic, our students proved that they not only work hard, but when the purpose of what they are doing is evident, they raise to the level needed to accomplish that task. Lastly, our students want to serve their community and need more opportunities to do so.”
According to Davis, the group also made quite an impression on the food bank employees. “The lady who was in charge of our group has worked at the Houston Food Bank for two years, and she said our group was the best group she’s ever had,” Davis explained. “She said they worked hard, cleaned up without being asked, and worked quickly. She was so impressed. She invited us back whenever we can come!”
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