Youthful energy vibrated throughout MTSU’s Murphy Center Thursday (Dec. 12) as more than 7,000 Murfreesboro school children attended the Education Day women’s basketball game.
Children danced, screamed, high-fived and even learned a thing or two about math and science before, during and after the game, which saw the MT Lady Raiders (6-3) defeat visiting Kennesaw (Ga.) State University, 68-32, in front of 10,028 fans — fourth largest in program history.
The second Education Day, a partnership between the university (athletics, women’s basketball and academics) and Murfreesboro City Schools, was a slam dunk for young and old alike. This year’s event also included students from Campus School, which is owned by MTSU and operated as part of Rutherford County Schools.
When Campus School students Emma Lakes and McKenzie Ray were asked how much fun they were having, both responded “a lot of fun” almost simultaneously.
A group of Bradley Academy students were selected to move from their seats to the high-five tunnel at the northwest entrance where the Lady Raiders enter Monte Hale Arena before the game. Not only did they high-five MTSU players and coaches, some of them high-fived and fist-bumped the three game officials.
Earlier, Black Fox Elementary fifth-graders Matthew Chambers and Katie Ramey pushed their teacher, Shaunta Rischer, to victory in the “Hovercraft Bowling” science activity.
Chambers said he had “10 billion stars of fun. I think every single kid should be able to do this (bowl).”
Ramey said the science she learned from the experience came “in the way you had to move the hovercraft and knock down the pins (two-liter bottles).”
Rischer added that the activity was a “good introduction to get kids excited about (science) when we get back to the classroom.”
John Pittard Elementary sixth-graders Brayden Reed and Bennett Morton used a spinning method to send their teacher, Herman Nelson, down the court. However, their angle was to the right of the pins and not as direct as their competitors.
Nelson said on a trial run at their school “the boys pushed so hard I hit the wall. It was comforting to see people on the other side of the pins (in Murphy Center).”
Nelson added there was plenty, educationally, to take away from the event.
“The good thing about it is that it is high interest,” he said. “You can take the statistics after the game and create math problems that provide teaching skills in a more meaningful way.”
In addition to the extremely popular smile cam and fan cam on the large screens, MT Athletic Marketing provides numerous activities for the children during media and regular time outs and at halftime.
University President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, Elizabeth, who retired in 2012 after teaching at the Discovery School at Reeves-Rogers on Greenland Drive, watched as the crowd size increased as did the noise level.
“This is an example of our partnership with the city schools and our investment with the schools,” President McPhee said. “Many of these students would not have been able to experience our campus. This is a win-win situation.”
Several seats down from the McPhees, City Schools’ Director Linda Gilbert smiled with excitement as all her students, with the exception of prekindergarten and kindergarten, and virtually the entire staff was in attendance.
“This is a great day, a beautiful day with lots of beautiful children,” Gilbert, an MTSU alumnus, said. “We’ll have children here who will learn things today.”
Gilbert added that she is “extremely grateful to MTSU” in this endeavor.
The McPhees will be honored during the City Schools Foundation seventh annual Excellence in Education Celebration Jan. 24, 2014, at Stones River Country Club.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)