Spring break ideas for education

School is out in Jefferson and Shelby counties. Spring break has begun.

Teachers, however, still are playing catch-up after so many classes were missed due to snow and ice.

That's why many teachers are encouraging parents to keep their child's minds fresh and open to learning this next week.

"We're definitely trying to play catch up right now," says Emily Duley, a seventh grade teacher at Irondale Middle School.

Duley feels behind.

Winter weather took six school days off the calendar. "Even with our benchmarks that we had recently. We had to keep a lot of stuff off of them, because we weren't able to cover the curriculum," says Duley.Duley loves the fact there are plenty of spots around Birmingham that can offer students a lesson in just about any subject.History, for example.Students can soak in history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Sloss Furnace, or at Vulcan Park and Museum -- which offers a detailed look at the history of Birmingham, from its founding to today. "We are very fortunate to have a lot of resources as far as that goes," Duley says.For a lesson in biology, the Birmingham Zoo is offering camps and events from March 22 through March 29. "Families and children of all ages can enjoy an environment that is enriching," says the Birmingham Zoo's Candace Broeker.

Broeker says they offer animal demonstrations in which children can get up close and learn more about each species. "It's a more interactive environment with some animals you don't get to see normally when you come to the zoo. You get an up close, personal view of the animals. You can also learn different facts about them," says Broeker.To "brush" up on arts and culture, Duley recommends a trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art. She explains how students can also learn about literature while at the museum. "They need to be able to look at the art and make inferences about it and how it comes into play in the stories that we read. How that may have been influenced by that piece of art. Or how that piece of art may have been influenced by a piece of writing."What curriculum would be complete without math and science? In Birmingham at the McWane Science Center, learning is part of the fun. "All of our regular, hands on exhibits are great. They all involve math. They all involve science. A lot of them involve engineering," says Kathy Fournier, vice president of education at McWane points out that McWane has a week of classes during spring break called 'Brain Awareness Week.'"UAB professors, graduate students, undergraduates come here and offer programming everyday, throughout the day, on brain awareness," explains Fournier. There's also a robotics section at McWane where students can apply problem solving skills formed by the state's math, science and technology initiative known as AMSTI.Emily Duley knows technology is a big part of today's classroom. And, encourages exploring these type possibilities over{} spring break. "We're definitely are trying, with the new standards, to get more technology integrated throughout. So, a lot of that stuff is going to be coming into play," says Duley.

Word to the wise. Students need to keep up with studies during their time off.