Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Introducing Rec & Ed's new and improved website

For the past several months, Rec & Ed staff have been working behind the scenes to update our huge, sometimes confusing, website. Website visitors will now experience a cleaner, easier-to-navigate interface. 
Heather always has a smile
for her co-workers.

I have to give a huge shout out to Heather Hooppaw, our rockstar employee who does administrative work in the office AND is the beloved supervisor of Angell's after school child care program. She's spent many hours modernizing the site's look and patiently working with staff to update their pages.  

We're still updating some areas, so you may still come across older pages within the site. If you experience a broken link or any other trouble, please let us know and we'll fix it. 

So....check out our new Rec & Ed homepage and let us know what you think.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Geek-tastic fun: 5 brand new science camps with partner A2 Hands On Museum

What types of tools might you design and build to use in a different planet's atmosphere? What kind of everyday chemistry makes things pop, fizz and glow? And hey, what actually happens behind the curtain at a puppet show?

Rec & Ed summer campers will explore these questions and much, much more in five brand new science and engineering camps offered in partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum.

Like most of our summer camps, spots are filling fast! In fact, two of the camps are already full. Listed below are the camps still open for enrollment. Extended Care is available for all of these camps.

Eureka! Inventing for a New Planet (Grades 2-5, July 21-25)
Campers embark on an adventure to another planet - and engineer and invent along the way! Using both digital and physical resources, campers tackle the design and engineering processes inventors use to generate mechanical, chemical, and digital creations. They create toys and tools that work in this strange environment and a digital story of their experiences and findings. Learn more and register here.

Fizz, Bang, Glow  (Grades 2-5, July 14 - 18) 
Only 10 spots left! From to fizzing reactions to colorful crystals, learn about the chemistry that happens all around us. Campers blow bubbles to explore properties of matter, build models of the world around them, and perform reactions that fizz, bang, and glow. Learn more and register here.

Science Behind the Curtain (Grades 1-4, Aug. 25-29)

Nineteen spots left! Campers will journey through the process of putting on a puppetry show while learning the inner workings of what happens back stage. They will explore the engineering of set and prop design and the science behind lighting and sound.

Learn more and register here.

Sorry, It's Not Magic, It's Science and River ROVing are already full.  
Coming soon: a blog post featuring our other community partners for science camps: Mad Science, Bricks 4 Kidz and Hooked on Fun.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rec & Ed teams up with Fit to Go in support of Food Gatherers

What does a perfect Saturday morning in Ann Arbor look like to you? If it's visiting the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market, fitting in a quick workout and combatting hunger in Washtenaw County, read on! 

Rec & Ed is co-sponsoring a series of Saturday morning Boot Camps with Molly Stamos of Fit to Go with Molly. Instead of charging a fee, Molly is requesting a donation of at least $5.00 to Food Gatherers

All fitness levels are welcome! Children 10 and up are welcome with adult supervision. 

Saturdays (weather permitting)
June 7, 14, 21, 28
July  12,19,26
August 2, 16 

8:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
(Arrive at 7:45 to sign waiver form)

Back lawn of Community High School

No pre-registration required. All you have to do is show up!

Why this charity? Food Gatherers exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community. Each year, they distribute 5.5 million pounds of food to 150 non-profits serving Washtenaw County. They truly serve our neighbors in need, in Ann Arbor and beyond.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why I'm going to Singapore and what's in it for you

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

This morning, with some trepidation, I took my first dose of live typhoid vaccine. Something about the words "2 billion unit delayed release capsule" on the label made me pause. Two billion of what, exactly? And I have to take four of these capsules?!

It's a few hours later, and my nerves have passed -- I'm back to being excited about this summer's journey to Singapore that I'll be taking with 19 AAPS colleagues. 

I'll be part of the second AAPS-Toyota delegation to Singapore to learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) best practices and methods. The Toyota STEAM Innovation program is a global educational collaboration among Toyota, AAPS, Michigan and the 
International Institute of Education in partnership with the Academy of Singapore Teachers and the Singapore Ministry of Education

Singapore is world-renowned for its commitment to education and for its success infusing science, technology, and math concepts into curricula. Our team will participate in a variety of site visits, lectures, panel discussions and collaborative projects with our Singaporean counterparts.

How does Rec & Ed connect with STEAM?

According to the national Afterschool Alliance (which hasn't yet incorporated the "A" for arts),
After school programs are uniquely suited to STEM, because they specialize in the kinds of hands-on, sleeves-rolled-up learning that is so vital to students’ understanding of STEM subjects. What’s more, after school programs are particularly well equipped to tap community resources—colleges and universities, local businesses and community organizations, and others.
I agree with this wholeheartedly -- our after school and camp environments provide small group settings for collaborative, project-based learning. Our programs also provide opportunities for youth to explore and try new areas of interest without having a test at the end.

For the past year, Rec & Ed staff have been doing what I'd call "intentional dabbling" in offering different types of STEAM after school classes, school break camps, and summer camps. Based on parent requests, last fall we started offering more after school classes with project-based problem solving using math and science. Our new Lego Robotics, Mindstorm and Physics classes are particularly popular. 

Our summer camp catalog features four pages of STEAM camps, such as science camps, Lego engineering camps, and perennial favorite Green Adventures Camp.

While in Singapore, I'll co-present a professional development session on the STEAM opportunities that extracurricular settings offer.

What do YOU think is important for Rec & Ed to consider for our STEAM programming?

As Rec & Ed director, I'll be working with my fellow STEAM delegates, Rec & Ed staff, and others to develop a vision and plan for what types of STEAM experiences we offer over the coming years. Critical questions for me are: what are the benchmarks for these experiences to be complementary to K-12 instruction, and how can we ensure the experiences we offer will be meaningful and fun for kids?

I'll be blogging and tweeting (@A2RecDirect) about my thinking process and my journey. I'd love to hear from parents, students and other AAPS staff about ideas for how Rec & Ed can embrace STEAM. 

How can out-of-school time opportunities help your child learn about STEAM concepts and careers?  Which 21st century STEAM skills do you think are best explored in after school and camp settings? What types of STEAM projects or topics would be appealing to your child?

This is the beginning of the conversation. Please comment below and share this post on your social media sites! I'll respond to all comments.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rec & Ed and The Farm at St. Joe's: a connection worth growing

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

Last week, Robin Schultz-Purves and I took a field trip to the Farm at St. Joe's. As our Green Adventure Camp (GAC) Coordinator, Robin is always looking for new experiences for campers. She was eager to check out the Farm as a possible GAC field trip destination.

The entrance to The Farm at St. Joe's
And why was I there? For one, I chair the AAPS Farm to School Collaborative and Wellness Policy Committee. For those committees, and for Green Adventures Camp, I'm always looking for new partners and possibilities. 

And okay, I'll just admit that I love visiting farms and local food facilities -- I spent many years prior to coming to Rec & Ed working in nutrition promotion and local food issues. 

Farmer Dan and Laura
Farmer Dan Bair and Laura Meisler
with sliding raised beds.
Farmer Dan Bair and Program Manager Laura Meisler showed us around the Farm's two hoop houses. Based on my drive-bys, I was expecting traditional hoop houses filled with season-extending crops. 

Yes, there was a beautiful hoop house full of plants you can't put into the ground outside until late May or early June. Dan grows crops to sell at a weekly farmers' market in the hospital and sources some into the cafeteria as well. 

When Dan mentioned that each summer he releases groups of beneficial insects inside the hoop house, Robin lit up. One of our new GAC camp themes, What's the Buzz, is all about insects and entomology. What better field trip could there be than a trip to The Farm to see good insects do their thing?

Note the state of Michigan
cut-outs on the sides!
Robin and I were also impressed by the barrier free hoop house, which allows people with disabilities to do all sorts of gardening. I immediately thought of our Adaptive Recreation programs for adults. Maybe we could collaborate to offer a class here!

The photo at the right shows one of the many creative gardening tools in the barrier-free hoop house. It's a rotating planter so that a person in a wheelchair, or someone who has trouble standing or squatting, can garden while sitting. 

There's something about being around growing things that helps ideas bloom. I'm looking forward to more dreaming and planning with The Farm at St. Joe's. 

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