Rapidly changing schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption across the entire university, but for five UNH students studying outdoor education and leadership, it was an opportunity to come up with a novel project that not only incorporates all of the leadership skills they’ve learned throughout the program, but also aims to help educators more effectively engage their students through online learning.
Those students – dual MSW/Adventure Therapy graduate student Matteo Bessone ‘20, and undergraduates Regan Carriere ‘20, Hayden Done ‘20, Nick Paul ‘20 and Meredith Rowe ‘21 - produced a series of digital adventure activities designed to engage elementary and secondary students in the online learning environment.
The project culminated in the UNH Digital Adventure Series, a collection of 40 social and emotional learning activities. One activity in the series, “Three Things” divides students into groups of three who then must find three things they all share in common. Another is called “Sides,” an ice-breaking activity in which participants get to know each other through similarities or differences.
The project took place during remote learning in professor Mike Gass’ organization and administration of outdoor education programs class. Because the students had worked with kids through their hands-on learning experiences in previous semesters, they brainstormed creative ways to adapt those activities to the virtual environment.
“Originally, we were going to be writing a grant in hopes of doing a service project,” says Carriere. “But COVID happened so we decided to take this project on. It wasn’t about the grade anymore. We wanted to create something that would be of great use to teachers and their students.”
You can download the UNH Digital Adventures Series and also find it on the new app Kikori, created by UNH graduate student Kendra Bostic, who just won first place in the Paul J. Holloway Prize Competition, which awards prizes for innovative, compelling proposals for bringing a product to market.
With this project, UNH students have proven again that positive things can be accomplished during turbulent times when they combine their compassion, skills and experience.