Our Fall 2015 Afterschool Program got off to a busy start with a new location and full, excited classes!
We introduced iSchool’s philosophy of “Every Child Has an Inner Genius” to the Falls Church City Public Schools, with an offering of Innovation Lab at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School during the school’s inaugural enrichment program. 32 young minds built marble roller coasters that required an understanding of physics, creativity and problem-solving, and teamwork. After introducing the idea that everyone can be an innovator and is capable of changing the world, and after discussing and practicing ways to self-regulate and stay calm, the classes got to work planning out and then making coasters with loops, hills, launchers, and other complex features. One parent provided feedback from her 2nd Grade son: “He said last week that the class was super duper cool and he was so excited he was in it because it combined science, math, and art – his 3 favorite subjects!! 😉”
Our two classes at Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls are half-way done! The Innovation Lab Playground for children in grades K to 2 has excited the children and helped them bond over a shared love of learning. Find ways to stay calm, use up excess energy, and remain focused on the task at hand has been the primary focus of our 21st Century Life Skill Building with the little ones. In the first four classes, children designed, built, tested, and improved air and water pressure rockets and similarly tested and designed marble roller coasters. They also learned about their own selves and which of their senses they use to learn while having fun with chemical reactions.
Our Mission POSSIBLE course for older students at Forestville Elementary School has stressed critical thinking and the Engineering Design Process. With help from the US Navy Engineering Offices in Washington DC and elsewhere, real engineers have delivered the daily “Mission” containing the 21st Century Skill of the Day and the focused action item from the Engineering Design Process. These volunteers have also included stories about how they use 21st Century Life Skills and the engineering process in their daily work. It has been a wonderful way for children to see and hear real engineers! The Mission POSSIBLE course features our fully blended STEAM SEL curriculum. Our first four classes have blended one STEM theme – or one step from the Engineering Design Process – with one 21st Century Life Skill. Children learned how their Identity impacts their Observations; used Empathy to Identify a Problem; practiced Self-control and Self-regulation while doing Background Research, and use Collaboration and Creativity to Brainstorm Solutions. To help them put these skills to use, each class also included a hand-on science activity such as making marble roller coasters, building air pressure and water pressure rockets, and using chemical reactions to identify a mystery powder.