A group of Valleyview Elementary students got a sweet surprise today when they found out they will be among the first class of Polk County second-graders to receive a free field trip to LEGOLAND® Florida next school year, compliments of University of South Florida Polytechnic. LEGOLAND Florida, Central Florida’s newest theme park opens on October 15, 2011 and will be a 150-acre interactive park dedicated to families with children ages 2-12.
More than 120 excited first-graders crowded into the school’s library this morning to hear the special announcement from USF Polytechnic Regional Chancellor Dr. Marshall Goodman, who explained why the university is funding the program.
“The United States faces stiff global competition from China, India and other countries that emphasize science and technology,” said Goodman. “As Florida’s first and only public polytechnic, our programs have a particular emphasis on science and technology while providing multi-disciplinary, applied learning and research experiences to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future. We must engage students early in math and science, and keep them engaged, so they are prepared for these highly-skilled fields later. Through our partnership with LEGOLAND Florida and Polk County Schools, we hope to inspire these young minds through their experience at the park and the associated curriculum that will be introduced in their classrooms.”
USF Polytechnic will underwrite the cost of field-trip admission for second grade classes in Polk County public schools beginning in November 2011. Advance reservations are required and classes must travel together during normal school hours under the supervision of their teachers. Qualified public elementary schools in Polk County can make reservations beginning June 7 by calling (877) 350-LEGO (5346).
“What a wonderful surprise for these students,” said Polk County Schools Superintendent Sherrie Nickell. “Second grade is when students start to go beyond the fundamentals and discover the interrelationships between math and science. It’s the perfect age to really engage their minds and what better way to get their attention than immersing them in imaginative play at LEGOLAND Florida.”
Florida Learning Programs to be Offered Year-Round
LEGOLAND Florida will offer year-round learning programs for students of all ages. One such program is “Amazing Machines,” which teaches students ages 8-12 how simple machines work through pulleys, levers and gears. Students participating in the program will build a motorized model and be sent on a chaperoned scavenger hunt throughout the park to identify simple machines at work in the many rides and attractions.
“We’re building an educational program rooted in kids’ love of play and especially their natural affinity for the LEGO® brand,” said LEGOLAND Florida Director of Sales and Marketing Kim Isemann. “In fact, whether kids are involved in a school-sponsored program or simply visiting with their families, they’ll have lots of learning opportunities throughout their visit.”
Isemann cites places like LEGOLAND Florida’s Imagination Zone, which emphasizes hands-on exploring and creation. Here kids can build a LEGO car and compete against other racers on a digitally timed track test. They can also build and test program cutting-edge, computerized robots.
“We’re working on a whole host of other programs custom-built for school-age children and expect to roll those out as the next school year gets started,” said Isemann.
For more information about LEGOLAND Florida K-6 educational programs, visit www.LEGOLAND.com.