Hawk Air 2019 transports students and community members to Egypt

The ocean. Brazil. Pluto. The future. And now, Egypt.

Every March, Hygiene Elementary School virtually transports students and community members to far-off destinations. With the help of family and community volunteers, the school is transformed for Hawk Air, an immersive lesson in history, geography, and culture.

This year, after a short “flight,” complete with educational in-flight entertainment with background information on the north African county, travelers arrived in Egypt at Cairo International Airport. Visitors had their passports stamped before being guided through a hands-on experience that included a backdrop of desert, camels, and pyramids, with stops along the Nile River, at the Library of Alexandria, and at a pharaoh’s tomb. Along the way, they completed educational activities to earn gems that can be exchanged for food and jewelry in a bustling, colorful café and market at the end.

“We are so thankful for the community involvement in Hawk Air,” said Hygiene Principal Renee Collier. “Parents, grandparents, community partners – everybody comes together to support student learning.”

This year’s Hawk Air program took place on Friday, March 15, and Monday, March 18. The program ran during school hours on Friday and Monday, and was open to the public on Friday night. Over the course of a week, parent volunteers and OtterBox employees helped construct intricate geographical landmarks, scenery, plants, and animals to form the Egyptian landscape.  While the building itself started a week before the event, but for the students, the learning started much sooner.

“The students start their learning in October,” said Sherry Legrand, Hygiene’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) coordinator. “This year the fifth-graders took on passion projects, so they became experts on different parts of the culture.”

Every year, students in each grade address a design challenge related to their travel destination. This year, kindergarten and first-graders examined ancient Egyptian building techniques and second-graders discussed Red Sea coral conservation, while third-graders designed an ancient Egyptian playground, and fourth-graders designed an Egyptian café. Through their project research, fifth-graders became experts on different aspects of Egyptian culture, and served as ambassadors to guide visitors through the experience.

The next destination for Hawk Air is chosen each spring through a design thinking process that engages students, parents, staff, and community members. Next year is the program’s tenth anniversary, so whether the destination is India, Antarctica, or somewhere in between, the 2020 experience is sure to be a good one.