Nearly a dozen 3-year-olds from the University's Child and Family Research Center (CFRC) toured the new Joe Crowley Student Union on Sept. 18, after having watched the building develop since construction began in 2005. Outfitted in little construction hats and PENTA T-shirts the class was very excited to take a special tour of the Union that is still under construction.
"Our students have shown a lot of interest in the new construction happening on campus," CFRC co-teacher Kelley Favre said. "They've visited this area of campus almost every Friday since March 2007. After visiting the site students return to the classroom and create drawings of what they've observed and work on building buildings of their own with wooden blocks."
CFRC teacher Jennifer Hamburger said she is amazed by the learning that takes place among her students.
"Two- and three-year-olds tend to see detail in things that adults overlook," Hamburger said. "The new Union project has really caught their eye and we are very excited to share this experience with the student union staff, the University and The PENTA Building Group."
Kyle Zive, Joe Crowley Student Union transition coordinator, and John Itzaina, from, The PENTA Building Group, led the tour.
Students, teachers and chaperones visited the 220-seat movie theater, large catering kitchen, new bookstore and grand ballroom.
While in the movie theater, students let the adults know that they'd like to see the animated Emperor Penguin feature "Happy Feet" in the Union when it opens. Students were also quick to point out the giant mixers in the catering kitchen.
Students also got to step inside the large walk-in freezer, touch and feel giant ovens and deep fryers that had recently been installed.
"Our students recognize many of the appliances," Hamburger said. "One student said his mom had a giant mixer at home."
"My mom has one of those at home," CFRC student Eric said. "She makes me cookies and cake."
While in the new bookstore, students built their own interpretation of the new Union with wooden blocks and then did artistic renderings of their creation.
All of the learning that took place leading up to and during the tour follows the Reggio Emilia approach.
The Reggio Emilia approach comes from the Northern Italian city of that name. One example of this approach is the emphasis on children's symbolic languages in the context of a project-oriented curriculum that is made possible through a carefully articulated, collaborative approach between adults and very young children. Projects like this one on the Union are often carried out over long periods of time, focus on in-depth learning.
Reggio Emilia programs are strongly rooted in and linked to the community, which supports them in many ways. Parents and community members have become a vital part of the programs and are involved at all levels of the schools' operations. There is a collective sense that children are the responsibility of the entire community since they represent the community's future.
"These young children are part of the campus community," Chuck Price, director of the Union, said. "They are the future of Nevada."
The Joe Crowley Student Union is hosting a grand opening celebration Thursday, Nov. 15 and Friday, Nov. 16. Students, faculty and members of the community are invited to attend.