NEW TALENT — Maple Crest Middle School 6th-grader Arthur Dominique concentrates as he juggles scarves.

Physical Education Teacher Vicki Boles introduced her students at Maple Crest STEM Middle School to unique forms of exercise.

Boles has taught Maple Crest students hip-hop dancing, self-defense techniques, ballroom dancing, and even cricket. And now, the Maple Crest teacher recently used a $638.90 teacher enhancement mini-grant she received from the Kokomo Public Schools Education Foundation to teach her 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students another unique way to stay fit: juggling.

The Education Foundation teacher enhancement grant money helped Boles purchase juggling balls, balance feathers, juggling rings, foam fun noodles, juggling clubs, scarves, and a juggling DVD.

When Boles introduced her 6th-graders to the art of juggling, the students started with plastic bags, and quickly moved up to scarves, tossing two in the beginning and then three as they mastered the technique. Boles shouted out instructions and juggling tips as the 6th-graders practiced.

“Grab one scarf with your pinky and one with your finger on your dominant hand,” Boles said. “Let go of one scarf at a time, and shout your colors out as you throw them – pink, yellow, green. Don’t become frustrated. Just keep practicing.”

Boles told her students that the key to juggling is to keep the items in front of their body and at eye level and never take their eyes off the items since hand-eye coordination is essential to juggling.

As students became proficient with the scarves, they graduated to more difficult items, such as clubs, balls, and rings.

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Near the end of the class period, Boles asked the students to think about which STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Mathematics) concepts they noticed during the juggling lesson.

One student said gravity pulled items toward the ground when juggling. The students also noticed that gravity pulled the bags down very slowly. Boles said air resistance kept them in the air longer.

“As we added items with more mass, gravity pulled them down more quickly,” Boles said. “With the bags, you had more time to react.”

By the end of the juggling unit, students will be able to juggle at different levels, Boles said. Students eventually will be challenged to create their own juggling technique and share the technique with their peers.

“Juggling is not the first activity that comes to mind when designing a fitness plan, but the benefits of this exercise make it a great addition to any routine,” Boles said. “Juggling provides cardiovascular exercise, stress relief, enhanced coordination, as well as a brain workout. I’m trying to be creative in my classroom by introducing a new element of exercise. Bringing something new in is always fun for the students. Additionally, juggling is something everyone can do if they practice. I appreciate the support from the Education Foundation. Without the foundation’s mini-grant funds, special projects like this wouldn’t be possible.”

In the past eight years, the Foundation has written grant checks to Kokomo Schools teachers for more than $42,000. This fund is supported by donations. To make a contribution to the teacher enhancement mini-grant fund or another Kokomo Schools Education Foundation-supported project, complete the donation form found on the following webpage: .