By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – It’s fun, educational and free.
PAWS University is back for the second year to provide summer learning opportunities for elementary students.
This time, though, the popular University of Nebraska at Kearney program is being offered as a “home edition,” allowing families to access a variety of curriculum-based activities during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of hosting workshops on the UNK campus, PAWS University is creating take-home kits for area families to ensure children continue learning and growing this summer.
“PAWS University remains committed to providing these educational experiences, even if we can’t meet face to face,” said program director Amy Nebesniak, an associate professor in UNK’s Department of Math and Statistics. “We recognize the need in our community right now and we want to help families in any way possible.”
“We’re very disappointed we won’t get to see our PAWS University students on campus, but we know this decision is best for the safety of our community,” Nebesniak added.
PAWS University: Home Edition is offering free at-home enrichment activities beginning June 1.
The activity kits include all the materials and instructions needed to complete several hands-on learning projects based on a weekly theme:
- June 1-5 – Secret Agent Training (spies/detectives)
- June 8-12 – Feeling Fit (sports/fitness/wellness)
- June 15-29 – Taking Flight (things that fly)
- June 22-26 – The Great Outdoors (camping/nature)
Each weekly kit features STEM, arts and humanities activities, as well as a book, snack recipe and “Louie the Loper adventure.”
“Kids will enjoy the hands-on activities, variety of projects and excitement each week brings,” Nebesniak said. “Parents will appreciate the simple directions and easily accessible enrichment activities that keep kids busy and learning throughout the summer.”
Activity kits can be reserved on the PAWS University website – unk.edu/pawsuniversity. Extra kits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Each household may receive one free kit per week, with additional kits available for $5 each.
Kits will be distributed June 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the following times and locations:
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Bryant, Central and Emerson elementary schools in Kearney
- 4-6 p.m. – UNK’s Cope Stadium
Safety precautions will be taken when packaging and distributing kits.
Additional learning opportunities, including live experiments and interviews, virtual tours and field trips, “celebrity” readers and workouts led by UNK athletes, will be available on the PAWS University website and Facebook page. These activities will also match the weekly themes.
PAWS University: Home Edition is supported by grant funding from EPSCoR, Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council.
If there continues to be a community need and funding is available, the program could be extended through July.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 308-865-8643.