BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Some Broken Arrow students got to take advantage of Tuesday’s mild weather to get a hands-on learning experience with something you may not have realized could be a learning tool.

Ninth grade environmental science students at Broken Arrow Public Schools’ Vanguard Academy used their skills from class to go fly fishing at Broken Arrow Events Park Tuesday morning.

It was her first time, but Vanguard freshman Emma Hilton carried herself like a fly fishing pro.

“It takes practice to get the movement right,” Hilton said. “Usually we want to do around three time the length of the pole.”

She’s spent hours making her own bait.

“It’s very tedious, because it’s like wrapping and tying things down, trimming and wrapping and wrapping,” she said.

She and 24 of her classmates hit the pond Tuesday alongside their teacher—or as the Broken Arrow Vanguard Academy calls him—their environmental science “coach” Andy Summers.

“In my spare time, I have always fished, I hunted, I’ve hiked,” Summers said.

He decided to get his students involved.

“Over a month ago, we started taking a look at insects,” he said. “Then we started learning how to mimic insects, to fly tie, and now we’re putting these flies to use.”

“Each fly is designed after an insect or a smaller fish,” Hilton said.

It’s all part of the school’s hands-on, project-based curriculum.

“It’s a culminating activity for the kids,” Summers said. “It’s letting them experiment a little bit with what they’ve created.”

It’s not your typical classroom.

“We’re always outside and we’re always trying something new,” Hilton said.

But it’s one these kids, and their “coach” would never trade.

“Compared to a normal school where you’re just handed a worksheet, you write down your answers ... you turn it in and get a grade ... you actually get to apply yourself and you get to show your growth,” Hilton said.

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