WJU Student Writes Grant to Purchase LEGOs to Aid in Hands On Learning

  WJU Communications
  Tuesday, April 3, 2018 9:30 AM
  Academics, WJU News

Wheeling, WV

A collaboration between Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) English major Aaron Fajerski and Paula Lestini from WJU’s Bishop Hodges Library has resulted in funding from the Appalachian College Association (ACA) – funding that will purchase LEGOs that will benefit university students and the grade school students they serve.

legos-2.jpgFajerski and Lestini worked on a grant application to the ACA Innovation and Enrichment Development Opportunities program, which awarded WJU’s Library funding to expand its Curriculum Resource Center.

PHOTO CAPTION:Wheeling Jesuit English major Aaron Fajerski and Associate Librarian Paula Lestini worked on a grant application to expand the Curriculum Resource Center. Funding will allow WJU’s library to purchase LEGOs for use by WJU students and community members.

Lestini, associate librarian, noted the grant writing process also provided a valuable learning opportunity for Fajerski to apply what he had learned in the classroom in a practical way. “Working on the grant application gave Aaron the chance to use his writing skills to work in a way that benefitted him and the university. This process allowed Aaron to learn what goes into writing a grant and helped him hone his writing skills,” she explained.

Dr. Amy Phillips, assistant professor of English approached the library staff inquiring about an internship for Fajerski. After discussion among the staff, Kelly Mummert, associate librarian, suggested that Fajerski could work on writing the grant as part of his internship. She and Dr. Phillips agreed the experience would provide him with a meaningful and practical internship experience, while benefitting the WJU community. Dr. Jane Neuenschwander, assistant professor of Education, also provided feedback on the project since it was focused on aiding education majors.

The funding will allow the library staff to purchase LEGOs and other materials that allow Wheeling Jesuit students, particularly those studying to be teachers, to develop hands-on learning programs that can be used in the classroom.

“WJU education students can use the LEGOs to develop fresh innovative ways to incorporate hands-on activities into teaching,” said Fajerski. “Our students can use the LEGOS to pull in many different ways to teach children in grades kindergarten to second grade. It will allow Wheeling Jesuit students to develop new, tactical experiences that will help teach the younger students new hands on ways to learn,” he added.

According to the grant application, Fajerski wrote, “The LEGOs will be used as a learning tool with which the children can be more self-sufficient in their intellectual growth. We want to enhance and expand the collection in regards to literary education of children in kindergarten to second grade. Our objective is to apply the hands-on experience to literacy, thereby enhancing literary development in young children.”

Fajerski explained the LEGOS sets contain bricks that are 20 different colors and include eyes, windows, doors and hinges for the windows and doors. These types of LEGOs “will teach students how to develop fresh, innovative ways to incorporate hands-on learning into teaching.” 

Lestini said, in addition to WJU education majors, local grade and middle school students in the HESS (Help Enrich Someone Special) Mentoring program, will benefit from the LEGOs since they will help enhance their tutoring efforts.

Lestini and Fajerski said expanding the Curriculum Resource Center will show library patrons how versatile a library can be. Many people have the misconception that libraries are only about books. The LEGO program, Lestini explained, “will display a new, fun, interactive, explorative and peer-bonding literary experience. The WJU student teachers will be able to borrow the LEGOs and incorporate bricks into classroom exercises.”

Literacy through LEGOS, Fajerski said, will not only benefit Wheeling Jesuit, but the city of Wheeling as well.

“Our partnership with the HESS program will take literary comprehension, teamwork and independent thinking and decision-making to a whole new level for children in the community. The addition of LEGOs to the Curriculum Resource Center will instill Bishop Hodges Library’s young patrons with the leadership, camaraderie and love of learning, which they will need to succeed in life – all qualities that will transform children into leaders and role models in our community and society. The fun and peer-bonding experiences the children will gain through this program will impact them for the rest of their lives. This will be a new way for WJU to get involved with the Wheeling community,” he added.

Working on the grant application, Fajerski said has been a rewarding and enriching experience. “This has been a great way for me to give back and contribute to the Wheeling Jesuit campus. Paula and Dr. Phillips provided invaluable feedback, guidance and support through the grant writing process. Together, the three of us made the ACA grant a reality.”

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