LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bill Nye meets Nickelodeon in one Jefferson County Public Schools classroom. A longtime science teacher is going back to basics for a new approach to learning.
Science, technology, engineering, art and math are rolled into one during class time at Fern Creek Elementary.
"I've been teaching 20 years – 17 years in the classroom — and this is my third year in the STEAM lab," John Paul Junk said.
No further introduction is needed for this creative teacher.
"Mr. Junk — he's my favorite," said Yusra Hassal, a third grader at Fern Creek Elementary.
Forget a traditional classroom. This teacher is living up to his name. Everything was built by Junk, from junk.
"Our family was Junk before junk was garbage," said Junk, whose collection includes everything from a life-sized giraffe, dragon and Tyrannosaurus rex to decorations molded straight from the sea.
"We had one summer to get this place up and running," Junk said. "I love to go to antique shops for inspiration to see cool, weird, old stuff, unique stuff, one-of-a-kind stuff and then come home and try to duplicate it."
Junk, a retired clown and marionette performer, is accustomed to designing an atmosphere with kids in mind.
"Mr. Junk is almost like our mascot," Fern Creek Elementary School Principal Tonya Arnold said.
Junk is taking his learning back to the future: It's fun and focused.
"It's important for them to know that science is involved in everything," Junk said. "Science and art, and we start with the basics here. We do a lot of fun things, but the fun things are to hook them into science."
And it's fun without technology.
"Nowadays, they [students] do so much stuff online. We're a nation addicted to screens," Junk said. "These kids need hands-on activities and not just the science, but the working together."
"We get to do everything we want in here," Yusra added. "Very interested, and I love it."
Arnold said it's Junk's out-of-the-box thinking that sets him, his students and the school apart.
"It's something that they're not doing at home anymore and not doing in the classroom anymore," Arnold said. "It's just kind of going a little bit old school but kind of bringing around and making it new again."
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