Fifth grade historians in Robyn Williams‘ world history class had yet another great distance learning opportunity to further their Olympic knowledge and apply it in a real-world setting. After learning about the ancient Greek Olympics through the online Olympic Games lesson, students started a research project exploring the impact of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games. They studied the impact of COVID-19 on several Olympic Games subtopics–athletes, sponsors, fans, Japan’s economy and TV broadcasters.
Through a STLinSTL connection, Williams was able to secure a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her students: Zoom interviews with two Olympic athletes affected by the Olympic Games postponement, Victoria Hayward and Jenna Caira, the co-captains of the Canadian Olympic softball team.
Williams shared, “This was a great way to tie in our ancient history to something present-day and relevant. The goal of talking to these athletes was to help kick start the students’ research on their subtopics and also to allow them to hear directly from Olympic athletes. I wanted to help make our learning relevant and offer them a different perspective, which the interview absolutely did.”
The students prepared thoughtful questions for Hayward and Caira, and there was plenty of dialogue and Q & A during the Zoom interview. One interesting thing they learned is that softball is not a guaranteed sport in every Olympic Games, and the postponed 2020 Olympics may be the last chance for many Canadian softball players to play in the Olympics before retiring. The athletes also shared how they are adapting to their new environments. From eating healthy to practicing visualizations to keep mentally tough, and from adjusting their workouts to the home setting and staying connected to their teammates on regular Zoom calls, the athletes are maintaining their physical, mental and emotional health so they can return to training and competition when they are able to do so. Just like the students, these Olympic athletes can’t wait until they are together again, training and competing as a team.
Williams continued, “Many students incorporated the Zoom interview into their projects successfully. They gained a new perspective on COVID-19 and its impact. Some of my students were inspired to reach out to other Olympic athletes through social media channels (with their parents’ permission, of course). They were so excited when the athletes responded to their questions, and it made their projects more real and relevant.”
Below is a video of a 5th grade boys’ Zoom session with Jenna Caira, co-captain of the Canadian Olympic softball team.
“I’m still trying to stay active in my own way, both physically and mentally, while staying connected with my family and friends.”
Here are a few examples of projects submitted by the fifth grade historians:
Impressive work, 5th graders!