Happy National Summer Learning Day!

National Summer Learning Day highlights the importance of keeping kids learning during the summer so that they can return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year!

This year, our partner Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area teamed up with KLRU to offer an exciting day of learning with PBS KIDS resources.

Kids were shown an episode of a PBS KIDS show called Design Squad in which two groups of teens compete against each other to build the best zip line thrill ride using the materials and tools provided.  The Walnut Creek club members were so excited to find out that they themselves had to complete a similar hands-on challenge. They were given rope, ping pong balls, marbles, rubber bands, construction paper, pipe cleaners, and masking tape.  They were instructed to work in small groups to plan the design of a carrier for the ping pong ball that would carry it safely from one end of a zip line to the other.
As soon as they were given the go ahead, you could hear the kids excitedly sharing their ideas and vision with each other, asking each other questions, problem solving together, and drawing out a plan.  Working together has its challenges and this was no exception, you could hear groups having to deal with conflicting ideas and compromising to reach a unified solution. Once they had solidified their plan, they began building collaboratively and testing out the design. You could hear groans when it didn’t work and the teams had to modify their designs and try again. You could hear another team cheering at the other side of the room when they had a breakthrough and it actually worked. You could feel the energy, see tons of smiles and hear the laughter coming from all sides of the room. It was pretty obvious that the kids were having fun while learning.

After completing the challenge, the kids gathered for a read-out-loud of the book, Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty.  The book encourages kids to persevere. On their way out, the kids were given a PBS summer activity booklet and a frisbee with the Klru.org/stem link printed on it. As they were exiting, I asked a little girl what she had learned. She said, “not to give up and if I keep trying, I’ll learn new things along the way and I will get better.”

Rather than keeping the fun limited to one day, BGCAA STEM director, Erica Egan, turned it up a notch by making it a week of fun. On Monday, 15 elementary-aged kids from the Bastrop Boys & Girls Clubs participated. On Wednesday, fifteen 1st and 2nd graders from Walnut Creek site joined in the fun. Tomorrow, Friday, the EAST site club members will get their turn to play while learning.  #KeepKidsLearning.