Did You Know?: Nancy Dworkin Born Learning Trail at Purdue North Central

October 3, 2014  

Bom Learning Trail station

Amy Boren (B.S., '12), coordinator of the Born Learning Trail's construction, explains a station's activity to visiting kindergarten students. (Photo by Dana Krill/PNC Campus Relations)
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Positioned throughout Purdue University North Central's grassy, rolling campus, the Nancy Dworkin Born Learning Trail has been appealing to the young and young at heart since its installation in April 2011.

Students in the Early Childhood Education program’s Child, Family, School and Community Partnerships course took on the trail's construction as their service-learning project for the Spring 2011 semester. Amy Boren, a PNC student and early childhood education major, led the effort and served as an early childhood service-learning mentor to other students in the course.

"Boren was instrumental in coordinating the entire project," says Mary Jane Eisenhauer, associate professor of early childhood education at PNC. "As a student, she pursued a grant from Indiana Campus Compact to fund the materials and construction of the trail." Today Boren is a kindergarten teacher.

PNC received additional support from the Purdue North Central Women's Association and PNC student organization, Purdue Learning About Young Children in Education (PLAYCE).

The Born Learning Trail consists of ten stations that feature colorful signs, which are meant to stimulate learning between children and their caregivers through fun games and activities found in the natural environment. After completing the activities on the trail, adults receive ideas for additional learning exercises that can take place at home.

The Nancy Dworkin Born Learning Trail is part of the Northwest Indiana United Way Success by 6 initiative, which is designed to promote children's observations, thinking and conversations. It is the first Born Learning Trail on a college campus in Indiana.

Described by Eisenhauer as the fairy godmother of early childhood education, Nancy Dworkin, first lady of Purdue North Central, was the first to suggest a Born Learning Trail be constructed on campus.

Dworkin says: "Purdue North Central has a tremendous Early Childhood Education program, so PNC was a perfect location for a Born Learning Trail. We have a wonderful childcare center on campus and we encourage parents and children to enjoy the trail together. Families visit our campus throughout the year. The Born Learning Trail helps to reinforce the importance of early childhood education and we hope that it helps to spark a life-long enthusiasm for learning in the youngsters who visit here.” 

In addition, the Born Learning Trail significantly contributes to the quality of life on campus, Eisenhauer says.

"Having a Born Learning Trail situated on a college campus sends a very powerful message about the value of early learning," Eisenhauer says. "It reminds students that learning is lifelong." 

The trail is open to the public, and families are welcome to enjoy it throughout the year. 

Writer: Kourtney Freiburger, 49-62993, kfreibu@purdue.edu 

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