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OSIEL Embraces Interactive Learning

Managing Editor

APPLIED INSTRUCTION: Students of the Oklahoma School of Innovation and Experiential Learning (OSIEL) display one of their recent school projects: building towns that runs on both series and parallel circuits. OSIEL, located near 171st Street and Yale Avenue, was created by 18-year teacher Jason Arant with the school’s emphasis on STEM instruction and hands-on application.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

On Dec. 3, the Oklahoma School of Innovation and Experiential Learning (OSIEL) held a school fundraiser to display and auction off student artwork of a new kind of art called Flowtography.

The art project was inspired by the students’ recent visit to Dallas and their tour of artist Chet Tucker’s studio. Tucker’s work has been termed flowtography, which combines words with photography.

After the students’ tour of Tucker’s studio, he challenged them to create their flowtography art.

“In all of my years of teaching, this was one of my top feel-good fundraisers,” says OSIEL Founder Jason Arant. “There was such a positive response from the community.”

The gallery exhibit saw 150 attendees and raised $3,200 for students’ trip to Puerto Rico in April.

The five-day trip to Puerto Rico will include time for students to work with injured manatees and spend time with local students, learning about the culture, language, food, says Arant. “Hopefully, they will take away from the experience that we are all more similar than different from each other.”

Arant, an 18-year teacher, opened OSIEL for its first year for the 2016-2017 school year. Previously, Arant taught at Bixby Public Schools’ Central Intermediate but decided to open OSIEL due to the lack of local STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for students.

“I want kids to have as much academic opportunity as possible. I want them to be proficient with robotics and computers, speak more than one language, and know how to solve problems.”

Much of students’ instruction revolves around hands-on application. After students study about a topic, that is often followed up with real-world learning in the form of field trips and hands-on projects.

“When we can take what students are learning and turn it into a project, they’ll never forget it,” he says.

For instance, after learning about wind turbines, students designed and built their own wind turbines and then visited a wind turbine farm in Carnegie, Oklahoma.
Additionally, when students were learning about refrigeration, they took a field trip to local company Allied Refrigeration and Whole Foods Market, located at 91st Street and Yale Avenue, to see firsthand how refrigeration works and is used on a daily basis.

Then, Allied challenged students to design a refrigeration unit that doesn’t need electricity.

“That’s an example of our many community partnerships and that this school is not just about me, but it includes parents and the community,” Arant says.

As part of the ecybermission competition, created by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program, OSIEL students are planning to submit four projects: investigating ways to reduce E.coli in pond water; creating padding for football helmets that helps to reduce concussions; creating an organic pesticide for aphids that does not harm honeybees; and designing a warning system for emergency workers and parents to help avoid SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Arant learned about the ecybermission competition at a STEM conference that he attended in summer 2016. It is a web-based STEM competition for students in grades 6-9 with state, regional and national awards.

“No Oklahoma teams even competed last year,” says Arant, which illustrates one of Arant’s reasons as to why he started OSIEL, to provide greater educational opportunities to area students.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Arant plans to expand the school to include a class of students ages 9-11. Currently, the school is operating out of portable buildings at the back of the South Community Church campus, near 171st Street and Yale Avenue. To accommodate the additional class, Arant hopes to move into a free-standing building at the front of the property that is presently unused.

Updated 12-29-2016

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