Experts Help Take Young Minds on Journey; Clay's Gifted Students Explore Science, History

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Sure, it was a school day.

But it was a special school day, one that involved playing chess and checkers, being chased by a robot, getting up close and personal with wildlife bones and fish, making origami, solving puzzles and logic problems, checking out an air-traffic controller's map, learning about plants, playing wooden musical instruments from Africa and meeting Benjamin Franklin.

Among other things.

Journey of the Mind, held Wednesday at the Clay County Agricultural Fairgrounds, is an annual event for gifted students of Clay County elementary schools. More than 500 students, along with chaperones, arrived at 9:30 a.m. For the next three hours or so, they hung out in fairgrounds exhibit halls, moving from one booth to another, engaging in challenging activities, experiments and other learning opportunities with some fun mixed in for good measure.

About 60 experts -- from military and government agencies to volunteer organizations and individuals, such as the history buff who plays Benjamin Franklin -- were on hand not only to spur questions but answer them.

"Can we do it?" asked a student, poring over a bowl of river water, after hearing Cheryl Abbott, educational coordinator for Watershed Action Volunteers, talk about water quality testing.

"Can I wear it now?" chimed in another student, after naval flight engineer David Clarkson put his helmet on the head of a young boy.

"Can we have a turn?" asked a group of children, waiting to get a chance at the African instruments.

"How does it work?" said a girl, after being happily pursued by the Clay High Robotics Team's creation. …


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