Nebraskaland June 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 29 of 63

Schramm Education Center Story and Photos by Jeff Kurrus Formally Ak-sar-ben Aquarium, this interactive nature destination sets the bar for outdoor education. T wo friends – a third grader and fourth grader – bounced from one activity to the next at the newly renovated Schramm Education Center. They hopped on the virtual reality mountain bikes, then marveled at at a 90-pound common snapping turtle. They picked up magnifying glasses, slid down a tree slide, cast line from a fi shing reel and yelled "gross" when they looked at their own arms beneath a microscope. Then they saw the touch tank where paddlefi sh and shovelnose sturgeon swam inches below the water. And they had only been at the new center for 15 minutes. Constantly Changing "We want you to come in here, so then you want to spend more time out there," said Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Outdoor Education Program Manager Lindsay Rogers when talking about the newly opened, 14,000 square-foot building. To accomplish this goal, Rogers and a team of colleagues designed the center looking toward the future of nature education. Fifth grade elementary school teacher Melissa Nelson was no stranger to the center's predecessor, the Ak-sar- ben Aquarium. "My family and I frequently came to the aquarium," she said during a visit with her class from Patriot Elementary in Papillion, "but my students absolutely love the new place. It's a lot more hands-on than it was before. I'm already planning the summer with my own kids." The hands-on portion was a pivotal component of the TOP: Koco Janssen, Averi Bridges and Maddie Kurrus of Gretna play at the Schramm Education Center. RIGHT: Kylie Raess of Gretna explores with a magnifying glass. New Opportunities in Learning 30 Nebraskaland • June 2019

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