PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When first-graders from the Paul Cuffee School in Providence looked out the window and saw it was raining, they did not let it deter them from a day of activities at Brown.
At 10 a.m., some 55 children rushed under the arch at the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center to begin a tour that encompassed many of the things that they were learning in the classroom.
As part of the students’ curriculum, which teaches them about eight types of intelligences, teacher Ruth Doran said that they couldn’t have visited a better place.
“Coming to Brown, people are smart in many ways. Students study music, science, art, and more,” she said. First-graders at Paul Cuffee participate in a unit of study that lasts eight weeks and is modeled after the multiple intelligence studies of educator Howard Gardner. The students spend one week learning about each intelligence, or “smarts,” which include nature, music, logic, picture, self, people, body, and word.
By visiting Brown, the kids discovered different departments that foster each of those intelligences. The fieldtrip, for example, included a tour of campus, playing sports in Sayles Hall, and examining artifacts in Manning Hall.
Although the young people have a long way to go before attending college, it doesn’t mean Brown can’t be an educational experience for them, said Amy Carroll, director of government relations at Brown, who spent part of the trip hosting the students, teachers and parent chaperones.
“Brown is a center for research in the humanities and the sciences and it is open to community members of all ages,” she said.
Upon their arrival, the kids followed undergraduate and tour guide Evert Finger. First, the students learned about the history of University Hall, the number of museums on campus, and about Carrie Tower.
“Can you believe that Brown has been around for more than 250 years,” Finger asked? The students gasped. “You must be joking,” one of them replied.
Such moments were not the only ones to catch the students’ attention. When they passed Stuart Theater on Ruth Simmons Quadrangle they were pleased to find out that they could become “singers or actors” one day.
Perhaps this, coupled with the excitement of entering the large auditorium at the Metcalf Research Building, inspired the group to sing, “I Care,” by Grammy-Award Winner Bill Harley, who serves as an artist in residence at Cuffee.
Of campus, “it’s different from other places in Providence. There is a lot of wood, metal, and fancy tables,” said student Josias Neoll.
The day capped off with a visit to the Romanesque-style Sayles Hall and to the Haffenreffer Museum in Manning Hall. Divided into two groups, the kids worked on mastering different “intelligences” through playing sports in Sayles, and by searching for specific items in the Museum.
Games in cavernous Sayles Hall included Frisbee, hockey, volleyball, and soccer. For some students, it was difficult to focus, while staring up at the large hand-painted portraits surrounding them of past University presidents.
Meanwhile, a scavenger hunt at the Haffenreffer Museum involved careful examination of glass displays of masks, figures and cups, some dating back hundreds of years. Other students looked at different sorts of items such as the robe and official chain worn during commencement.
Community groups are encouraged to visit Brown, said Carroll.
For us, it also helps to give children an idea of what a college campus is like, noted Doran. “We are trying to inspire and to let the youngsters know about what is out there in their world.”