By Kevin S. Abel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
Stuttgart Elementary School (SES) was filled with a variety of tanks, rockets, spaceships, battleships, buses, and many cars all made from cardboard boxes and driven in a parade by kindergarteners during their annual Kindy 500 event, May 17.
The Kindy 500 is held to help students to learn through play, providing a culminating experience of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) standards taught throughout the school year.
“We do the Kindy 500 as a way for our kindergarten kids to feel proud of themselves and to strut their stuff,” said Katie Biggs, event organizer and kindergarten teacher. “During the Kindy 500, the children learn about U.S. symbols, experience community helpers through a variety of stations, work together, work independently, and appreciate the variety of transportation vehicles.”
After the parade the kindergartners, parents, and volunteers broke into groups and participated in activity stations that included learning stations our nation’s symbols, and fun stations of car wash, obstacle course and of course a gas station.
“During the Kindy 500, the children learn about U.S. symbols, experience community helpers through a variety of stations, work together, work independently, and appreciate the variety of transportation vehicles,” said Biggs. “SES does this for our children because we believe in learning through play and believe in giving children real-life experiences where they can apply all that they have learned throughout the school year in an active and exciting way.”
“It feels really good to teach them about our flag and country, it makes me proud to be part of it,” said Eliana Dolbier, Stuttgart High School 10th grader and volunteer. “It’s really fun and they are so adorable in their cars”
“When my wife and I first heard of this, we really didn’t know what it was about, we wondered how this would be learning,” said Kevin Lawson, parent of a kindergartner. “But once we started the project we quickly learned it’s about art and sitting down and thinking through the design and how to build it. The the building alone helps them with process and thinking things through.”
The event begain four years ago when the school was at its old location and known as Böblingen Elementary School and continued with the move to SES.
“All in all, we have done this for four years, making it bigger and better each year,” said Biggs. “There is much planning to be done and we are always looking at ways we can improve the learning for our students.”
According to Biggs the SES staff brainstorm new ideas, create new stations, and sets a date when the kindergarteners have had time to learn what is expected of them, and solicit volunteers.
This year’s volunteers included Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Europe, Marine Forces
Europe/Africa and a few members of the Stuttgart Outdoor Recreation Hunting program. “Without these volunteers, the Kindy 500 would not have been such the success it was,” said Biggs.
Biggs added, “The most important take away the kids get from the Kindy 500 is the feeling of success and pride. After independently moving from station to station, the children feel so accomplished and this is a feeling that every child should experience.”
“This is a memory they will have for a very long time, having a great time learning on a military base in Germany,” said Dolbier.