If you stop by Washington's or Jefferson's after school program, don't be surprised if you see students running around in official white lab coats. They aren't doctors, although they might be one day; they are engaged in the "White Coat Scientist" after school class with former Jamestown High School science teacher, Richard Stineman. The objective of the course is to inquire, examine and explore like a scientist, thus, the lab coats.
"By donning the lab coats, students dress, act and think like a scientist while using their tools to advance learning," said Stineman. "Because this is after school, the focus is hands-on, engaging science projects that range from life science to the physical sciences. With today's students, we cannot underscore enough the importance of lessons that advance STEM learning. My adage is learning by doing, and it works."
Jamestown Public Schools and nearly a dozen community partners deliver after school programming that keeps kids safe, inspires learning and helps working families. After school programming provides academic support, a wide array of youth-development activities that extend and enhance the learning that takes place during the school day, and hosts family support and involvement opportunities.
JPS grants director for after school programs, Julie Poppleton said, "Several of our Jamestown after school program sites are nearing enrollment capacity; some with waiting lists. We're working enthusiastically and responsively to provide expanded learning opportunities for our community's kids, and programs are flourishing. Our concern is that both of our main funding streams, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Extended School Day are now in the last year of their current grant cycle, and will expire on June 30, 2013. We are hoping for an Extended School Day grant extension and anticipating a new 21st Century application release in October, but understand that although demand has increased, funding will likely decrease. That means the competition for critical out-of-school-time dollars will be fierce. We need to keep what we value."
NEW AFTER SCHOOL OFFERINGS
Junior Achievement (JA), which empowers young people to own their economic success, is currently offered at middle school after school programs, and has been incorporated into the Youth Apprenticeship Program at JHS. This year, thanks to funding from the Sheldon Foundation, JA will be offered to elementary after school students, as well. The staff and/or volunteer led, K-12 programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential.
A new curriculum offered at Jefferson and Washington's after school programs will be "Fly to Learn," through the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum and its coordinator, Edward Martiny. The program, made possible by a Time Warner Cable Connect a Million Minds grant, uses Virtual Flight to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students complete 10 aviation lessons using X-PLANE computer software to design and build airplanes, then test "fly" them. Fly to Learn conforms to the National Framework for Science and Engineering Standards. The program has the potential to motivate youth through aviation while offering curriculum, instruction and classroom support.
NASA's Train Like an Astronaut, an international challenge that piloted last year, will be returning by popular demand to Jefferson and Washington participants. The program was developed in cooperation with NASA scientists and fitness professionals working directly with astronauts. Train Like an Astronaut (TLA) modules are a physical and inquiry-based approach to human health and fitness on Earth and in space, and support National Science, Physical Education and Health Standards. TLA modules like "Agility Astro-Course," "Building an Astronaut Core" and "Crew Assembly" actively engage after school programs students in structured, hands-on science activities that relate physical Earth-based needs to the requirements of exploring space. Students visited Dresser-Rand as a culminating field trip to TLA where they participated in a space flight simulator and mission control activity.
"I loved trying the flight simulator. It was very realistic; it felt like you were actually in space," said Sarah Marucci, a seventh-grader in the Jeff Advantage After School Program. "I had no idea how much work was involved in preparing for space flight. Everything and everyone in the space ship is tested to be sure there are no germs or health issues. Having after school programs like Train Like An Astronaut keeps kids learning long after school stops. It is a safe and fun place to learn."