Afterschool classes inspire “Inner Genius” – Forestville session closes and Falls Church ongoing

We like to open our afterschool classes with this reminder to our students: “iSchool believes that every one of you has an inner genius. YOU can be the next inventor, innovator, idea-maker, or changemaker with ideas that make the world a better place. You have to learn a few things along the way, but you already have it in you.”  This inspirational message, a fun and inviting class setting (including going outside), hands-on Creative STEM activities, and integrated 21st Century Life Skills makes for a learning environment like no other. We do exit interviews with open-ended questions such as “What did you learn?” One of our Forestville Elementary School Students in this Fall’s Mission POSSIBLE: Science Fair class had this to say: “I learned that I have an inner genius, but that I have to work hard to let it out.” He knew he could do great things!


We finished our fall afterschool sessions at Forestville Elementary School with plenty of hands-on Creative STEM. In our Mission POSSIBLE course, older students continued working on their QR Codes. They first learned about the possibilities of quick response technologies with some cool Dinosaur Discovery codes, and then worked on webpages of their own. Read their work about The Fox Mill Tree, Trees for Fun at Forestville, and Mystery From the Trailers. Several students also started working on videos, which proved to be quite a challenge!

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Students then created prototypes of their QR Codes and hung them up at the school in time for the Family Science Night. The following week, they improved their prototypes and worked on finalizing and hanging their codes up around the school.

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In addition to the long-term project, in Mission POSSIBLE we included plenty of hands-on activities that allowed children to understand the Engineering Design Process.  Throughout the course volunteer Scientists and Engineers produced videos to deliver the daily “Mission.” The fall session ended with a wonderful video showcasing the diversity of the science field and discussing the utility of brainstorming. THANK YOU to our volunteers!

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We also finished our Innovation Lab Playground course for young students at Forestville with a project-based approach and hands-on science fun. Students spent two classes creating Thanksgiving gifts for their loved ones; setting up a crystal experiment in one class and wrapping and decorating their crystals in the next class.

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In the last half of Innovation Lab Playground, children enjoyed going outside to learn about biodiversity, local plants, and innovative uses of technology. Outdoor learning is an important tool that we use to build a love for place and science.

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These young students also did quite a lot of engineering and building using out-of-the-box materials such as food and our new magnetic board and pipes!

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Our classes at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Falls Church have been busy! We start every class with a discussion about their inner genius and the 21st Century Life Skills and STEM knowledge they need to become the world’s next inventor, innovator, or changemaker. It is a joy seeing the inspirational lights go off in the heads of these children as they set off to make something new!

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Beautiful Fall weather means we have been able to go outside for hands-on learning.  Students worked in teams to design water pressure rockets and then examined their school grounds to learn about biodiversity. They even examined Tripps Run, the creek behind their school, to learn about water quality and test pH.

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Students have also experimented and compared different kinds of chemical and physical reactions and persevered through the fragile but rewarding Marshmallow Challenge.  One student actually complained about having not having class during the holiday week: “Just because it’s Thanksgiving!”

Happy Thanksgiving!