After-School Programs Support Creativity, Personalized Learning

Our After-School Programs are in full swing at Great Falls Elementary and Forestville Elementary Schools. Students are hard at work learning, having fun, and using science as Superheroes to save the world!

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With the arrival of spring, outdoor education has been a big part of our program.  At Great Falls, students examined the topography of their school’s campus to find drainage pathways, runoff, and water sources. They then tested water for pH, nitrates, and dissolved oxygen.  At Forestville, students went outside to discuss Earth Day and to start a long-term plot observation. They will return to those plots to observe and recognize change. Nature was also a great place to learn about empathy for the environment and for others.

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Our 21st Century Life Skills curriculum helps children identify their strengths, and allows for personalized experiences. One student realized that she was really intrigued by the nuances of chemical reactions. We helped her learn the complicated Chemical Clock Reaction, and then she taught it to others! Personalization also helps us bring new life to repeat activities. For instance, students made Potato Batteries, which many have done before. The addition of new materials – such as conductive clay and a clock – and the encouragement to hook up the batteries as artistic sculptures, helped make an old activity feel new. Addition of multiple, unexpected materials also helps children follow their own interests, such as comparing the conductivity of the clay versus potatoes.

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The inclusion of food always makes learning both unexpected and fun! We always include a Food Fun Day in every program. In this program, children have used spaghetti and marshmallows to build towers, toothpicks and gumdrops to make earthquake-proof homes, and candy to make DNA.  They also used static electricity to pick up cereal and chewed candy in the dark with their mouths wide open in an effort to see triboluminescence.

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Children in iSchool courses love putting their scientific knowledge to use with engineering challenges.  In recent classes children have designed and tested ziplines using diverse materials such as tooth floss and fishing line to move ping pong balls safely across the room.  Our popular Wind Tunnel and its open-ended design challenge has also become a staple of our programs. Our budding Superheroes had to design satellites – complete with compartments and power sources – that could communicate with earth. Children felt such as sense of accomplishment and confidence when they made their crafts hover! Design projects also motivate functional creativity, with children expressing their own personalities while also keeping to basic scientific principles.

We include 21st Century Life Skills in all of our programs.  For instance, during the lesson with the Chemical Clock Reaction, children practiced being patient. They discussed empathy by learning about other’s problems and thinking of ways to solve those problems. In the Wind Tunnel lesson, we stressed perseverance, as children had to try, try, and try again to get their crafts to hover. Register for our Summer Camps to give your children these experiences!