Magnet Schools Conference

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Full of toys and laughing adults, room 2400 at MSU's engineering building hardly looked like a classroom Monday afternoon--but a classroom is exactly what it was.

It was a learning session as part of the Magnet Schools of America annual conference in Lansing this week. The educators were learning legorobotics as a possible lesson to teach their students.

"As an administrator," Robin Johnson, a Tampa asst. principal says, "I can take what I'm learning now and integrate with math and science."

MSU runs a legorobotics program with Lansing schools which is why these teachers are here.

"They're reached out to us, we're reached out to them. And today we are helping with their national conference, showing them things can be implemented elsewhere," Tom Wolff, assoc. dean of MSU's engineering school says.

The educators at the conference use it as an opportunity to share programs like that one. For Lansing, as host this year, it's a chance to show off as well.

"It's showcasing our district really," says Worsie Gregory, director of magnet schools for the Lansing school District.

The district began forming magnet, or themed schools in 2001. They now have 9, many with waiting lists just to get in. Lansing is the only district in the area with a magnet program.

Lansing is a small city to have scored this annual convention, but to that, the district and the out of state participants say, 'So what?'

"A classroom is a classroom no matter where you are," Tampa teacher Eric Verrill said.

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