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Roosevelt School District enters the eXzone

November 18, 2005

On Saturday mornings during the fall, students from Cloves C. Campbell Elementary School learned about math, science and reading at eXzone, a part of the Project eXcellence initiative sponsored by Arizona State University. The initiative provides quality, out-of-school learning environments for underserved students in grades K-12 in Phoenix schools in the Roosevelt School District.

For eight weeks during each fall and spring semester, faculty and students from the Education program at ASU's Polytechnic campus volunteer to assist students in grades 1-8 who need the extra academic assistance or who are interested in hands-on educational experiences.

"Students work on a range of projects, from making a glowing pickle or root beer in a science lab, to making yarn and sand art as a part of a study of Native American culture," says Portia White-Buze, eXzone mentor and fifth grade teacher at Campbell.

And that's not all these students have accomplished. They have been challenged to design structures using LEGO blocks, as well as work with clay, foods from around the world, computers, digital cameras, videos, and have even written and published books.

"The students who attend eXzone enjoy activities that enhance learning experiences and make learning a lifelong journey," says White-Buze.

The elementary school students are not the only ones benefiting from these experiences. For ASU students, the initiative extends and enhances their learning experience well beyond the college classroom. And for the current teachers, it exposes them to the latest technology and teaching methodologies.

Another aspect of the Project eXcellence initiative is a summer program called eXplore, which targets schools in the Roosevelt and Mesa districts, as well as Maricopa County School District. The eXplore summer program is a four-week program for students in grades K-12 that centers on a micro-society theme where all students are citizens in the "eX-city".

"The city is run by the students, so they are exposed to real-life examples, such as purchasing items in the store, maintaining a bank account, creating a budget, attending court, and participating in elections and campaigns," says Janel White- Taylor, coordinator of the programs and ASU professor.

The Saturday morning and summer programs have been so successful that White-Taylor, along with others, are working with the Roosevelt District to develop after school and in-school programs, as well as expand the program to other schools.

"The initiative continues to grow and change," says White-Taylor, "which is a welcomed outcome."