Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inspiration: A Learning Club Story

This week we’re reflecting on the incredible contributions of our 2011-12 AmeriCorps Museum Educators as their service year comes to a close. This story was shared by Suzie Doogan, a member of the team that served 200 kids (ages 6-12) from community centers in Providence and Pawtucket in after-school Learning Clubs. They engaged in fun hands-on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) activities, solving problems to design marble roller coasters, launch paper rockets and much more.

Suzie introduces a new lesson to the Learning Club.
Egg drop is a classic activity. Youth are challenged to construct egg catchers or nests in order to protect the fall of eggs that are dropped from a few feet above the ground.

Cheik, age 7, has large, alert eyes and a face that somehow intimates that he's recently heard a good, albeit not-so-clean, joke. He is diplomatic in our Learning Club, saying things during discussion like, "Well, I agree with Deborah a little bit…"

Cheik jumped into the egg-catcher construction with great vigor. He actively described to me what he was going to do as he engineered the catcher ("I'm going to use tape to hold the wheels together so the egg catcher can move") and responded to my questions with great thought ("Oh, hmm... well the wheels might not move if they're taped... maybe tape isn't the best thing.") He checked in with me during great milestones –"I'm going to show you when I'm done" was followed by the exclamation "Now it can move!" He tested his project out along the way, first with the egg outside of it, then with the egg inside.

When Cheik was presented with a long piece of foam, he was inspired to use it to construct a slide for his egg, coming down from the side of the egg catcher. Even though we had already finished building and testing our projects for the day, he was motivated to continue improving upon his already successful design. Cheik inspired us to continue the activity the next day with the extension of constructing the egg-catcher not only to protect falling eggs, but also to provide eggs a different form of transportation.

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