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Summer Science Fun
I know that the last thing on your mind is what will your students be doing to extend the science learning you have begun. I do think we miss a lot of solid connections and collaboration between those of us in the school year classroom and those good folks who offer after school and summer learning opportunities. It does not involve a lot of extra work on our part (although many of you are involved or will want to become involved) just a willingness to make parents and students aware of the benefits and the programs.
There is a group out of Northern California called the Coalition for Science After School. This group consists of most major museums, zoos, and groups serving school age children (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.). This group is committed to increasing the quality of their science programming so that kids who participate get a head start on learning important STEM science concepts. Many offer high interest summer programs at low cost.
So, while you are reworking your curriculum, taking another class to improve your teaching tools, or taking care of all the tasks you put off while you were up to your neck teaching during the school year, your students could be improving on what you taught them in class.
To hook you in to the network begin at the site for this amazing group:
Here you can become an advocate for science in your area, search for funders for programs you want to start, read current research and connect. The power of this site for teachers is in the directory. Once you click on that link you can search through an amazing list of links to afterschool (and most offer summer) programs in the United States.
You can search for opportunities near you by putting in your zip code. I entered my zip code and found “Raptor Rangers” at the Omaha Children’s Museum, “Aim for the Stars” and a robotics camp through the university of Nebraska, “The Art of Science” at the Omaha Children’s Museum, and a host of other summer and fall opportunities.
I will type up a list of these programs and not only post it on my parent-teacher blog site and e-mail out the links, but hand out slips with contact information at parent teacher conferences and perhaps send a few home with kids. Parents, like teachers are also anxious for their children to be involved with more than the TV over the summer.
Almost every state offers some sort of summer program in science and or math. These are easier to find by contacting your state science consultant at the Department of education. But, local folks at a community college or university will have that information as well. In North Carolina they have a stellar program fully funded (no cost to parents) by donations and tax dollars.
California offers “COSMOS” for talented secondary students to get the opportunity to work alongside researchers in real scientific endeavors.
Johns Hopkins offers several programs through their Center for Talented Youth.
Those summer camps for gifted students are the big programs that often require a student travel to the site and stay for a week or more to participate. Your kids can have rich opportunities right in the neighborhood with some of the offerings you will find by simply keeping your ear to the ground. One year I asked my students to find some worthwhile science program to post on our summer opportunities bulletin board. Those students involved with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club almost filled the spaces with flyers. The Girl Scouts took over part of my wall. The local library did not have a program specifically aimed at science. But, when more than a dozen of my students asked the librarian about programs for science she constructed a summer science reading program that included some amazing non-fiction reading days, a science fiction reading group and 4 mornings of science experiments on the library lawn. In my neck of the woods we love to be the catalyst for more science opportunities.
Lastly I have to give a nod to social media. I keep two Facebook accounts. One account is for my family and friends and one for my life as a teacher. I keep the two accounts separate. On my teacher account I connect with my students throughout the year but mainly over the summer. I monitor the site and keep their regular posts hidden and only show the science conversations that go on. Here we can keep in touch and discuss learning that takes place over the summer. I love to post new videos from teacher tube and many of my high school students have taken advantage of video links I post from I Tunes University from MIT. These students can listen to lectures and watch science demonstrations from amazing professors. I have almost as many teachers who check in on this Facebook site as students.
So, as you are contemplating the mountain of tasks you have facing you this summer take a deep breath and hand the kids over to some summer programs that will keep the learning fires lit. I can say from experience that this one little task will make life in the fall so much richer and more than a few parents will thank you for helping keep their couch “potato” free this summer.