Learning Enhanced through Kids Discover the Trail! Ithaca

April 23, 2016

IMG_2011On Tuesday April 19, Chris Sanchirico of IPEI and Star Bressler of the DT spoke at the ICSD Board of Education Meeting:


“We’re here from Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) and the Discovery Trail (DT) to celebrate our ongoing, 11 year collaboration with the ICSD to provide Kids Discover the Trail! Ithaca, aka KDT! Ithaca.

IPEI and the DT together raise funds for the program, and each spring present our checks for processing through ICSD and BOCES Enrichment. ICSD also supports KDT! Ithaca with transportation and staff development.

Each year, KDT! Ithaca provides all elementary school students, last year 2,857, with about 150 visits to the eight Discovery Trail organizations to connect their learning to the rich experiences available at each site. A total of 29,450 students have participated in the program since its start in 2005.

Each elementary grade is linked with a Discovery Trail site. The site’s resources are aligned with grade-level curricula and state standards.

Individual classrooms from different schools visit sites in pairs, and students share learning and social activities with a “buddy” from the other school. The schools are paired according to which middle school the students will enter together.

There’s a book that complements the learning activities of each grade; and technology is also integrated into the trips. For example, this year a class used their ipads to make Venn diagrams comparing and contrasting themselves to their buddies.

Additional field trips are often taken with buddies. Last year over 100 classes attended additional “Buddy Up” trips that give children an additional opportunity to get to know each other. This has become an important step towards creating community among the many varied segments of our local population.

KDT! Ithaca Program Goals:
• To enhance classroom learning through experience-based programs;
• To provide equal access to Discovery Trail sites,
• To promote understanding and respect among elementary students from different neighborhoods; and
• To expand community awareness of the resources of the Discovery Trail


Star extended an invitation to the Board and ICSD Administration to participate in KDT! Ithaca activities this spring. She shared a story relayed to her after second graders had hands on experiences with energy production at the Sciencenter.  There are real world learning opportunities provided by the collaboration of Discovery Trail educators with the ICSD teachers through KDT! Ithaca.


Board of Education members and Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown responded to their presentation with thanks for the community support from donors represented by the funds accepted by board action.  IPEI and the Discovery Trail have created “one of the smartest things I’ve ever seen” said Eldred Harris who commented on the “knitting together of kids” with the social component.  ICSD’s demographics show a large “wealth gap” but the distinctions are lessened by experiences students have with each other with their buddies from paired schools.  Brown shared that this is his first year experiencing KDT! Ithaca as a parent of a Kindergartner.  One example of the well-executed program is the book with activity flier that accompanies each grade level and comes home for the student to share with the family.

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