Students at Gilbert Elementary School in LaFayette, Ga., have a new way to have fun outside while building their problem-solving skills.
This past spring, UTC students in the Outdoor Leadership Skills class, led by Dr. Drew Bailey, constructed a ropes course in a wooded area next to the school.
After discussing theories of adventure education, rites of passage, and leadership styles, Bailey’s students researched specific ropes course elements, developed a design for their course and wrote accompanying instructions for each challenge the elementary school students will included in the course.
“My focus has always been giving students powerful learning experiences they’ll remember forever. Rather than talking about a ropes course in a classroom, I want my students to experience what it’s like to construct it themselves,” says Bailey, UC Foundation assistant professor and program coordinator for the Sport and Leisure Service Administration.
During a warm weekend in April, UTC students headed to rural North Georgia to construct the course. After picking out the best spot, the students raked, chopped, climbed, cut, measured, sawed, and drilled.
“Doing something like this helps students build their problem-solving and teamwork skills,” Bailey says. “There’s more trial and error involved and everyone had to work together to figure out the best way to build the course. They had to come up with quick solutions to problems, like when a drill bit broke.”
For Matt Harris, principal of Gilbert Elementary, the ropes course has been a hit with both students and teachers.
“I had plans for a course for years, but couldn’t come up with the funds,” Harris says. “Kids have used it every day since it was built. They love it, and the teachers love it because the kids to get their energy out while also working on their problem-solving skills.”
Bailey says the project also was a successful project for his students.
“This type of project is applicable to what students are going to be doing when they graduate. There’s a clear value in not only understanding the process, but actually going out there and completing a project.
“Through this experience, my students were able to learn and apply different skills than what they typically use in a classroom,” Bailey says.