By Megan Davis, University Relations Intern

College isn’t all about academic pursuits. Some students are still playing games. These students aren’t goofing off—they are giving back to their community.

Students are engaged in a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga initiative called Think Beyond the Classroom. Bengt Carlson, Coordinator for Experiential Learning, explains that the main focus of this program is for students to develop critical and creative thinking skills through active or experiential learning. In other words, the best way to learn something is with a hands-on experience.

Carlson said that this type of learning happens frequently at UTC, but Think Beyond the Classroom gives UTC students the chance to gather with others who want to become acquainted with their peers and their community.

“Engaged, thoughtful students are a growing population on this campus.  We simply want to encourage and recognize them in what they are doing,” Carlson said.

A group of about 120 students met on campus bright and early Saturday, August 25, and they were divided into groups to be sent around the city. Each group was able to serve and learn in a different way in the community. One group canoed and cleaned up the Tennessee River; another reworked a playground and got to know at risk children; while a third studied local public art.

Students also worked at Lifespring Community Health Center and Crabtree Farms.  See the video here.

UTC senior Bradley Bell was the student leader for the “Teach a Child, Save a Child” group. Bell explained that his group focused on connecting with children. The UTC students played games with the children to get them comfortable before explaining the importance of college and the opportunities it offers.

“Our goal was to give the kids the spark to do it [go to college],” Bell said.

Bell is a big advocate for community engagement.

“I want to give back to the community that has given so much to us, and you don’t have to be part of an organization to do that,” Bell said.

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