Monday, August 21, 2017

"Uncle John" Would be Proud


     Do you know what it takes to make a Camera Obscure? We thought we did...but it turns out it takes a lot longer than we thought. Perhaps this is how our namesake, John Brashear felt, when he was trying to create different pieces of technology? It took us three hours to create our own--and one that would enable us to successfully view the solar eclipse, at that! But after much trial and error--we had success! Up, we went to Grandview, and with our boxes on our heads, and backs to the sun, we were able to witness the eclipse. What a reward that was! :)

      Today, we put on our thinking caps--and set off to seek the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a sort of lesson in life, that if you persevere, something beautiful and bright will be waiting for you, at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Reinventing the Classroom (Brashear Addition)

              It's a rainy and dreary day here at Brashear (ALEC), what do we do at Brashear on a rainy day you may ask? We rearrange our learning space, of course! At Brashear, we want to do whatever it takes, to provide an individual with the best, and most purposeful experience as possible. As our youth learn and grow, we, as teachers learn and grow.

             After studying our learning space, we saw opportunities for our space to change, in ways that would benefit our wide variety of learning styles. We believe that by tweaking just a few things within our learning space, we will be able to cater better to our youth in the Fall.

           Classroom layout has proven to be very crucial in the learning development of students. A learning space is also important for the teacher. The teacher should be able to cater to each and every individual student, holistically, while teaching a group-oriented lesson.

           Once all of the appropriate tables are set-up for the Fall, they will be situated in such a way, that students can collaborate, listen, watch, and feel connected to each lesson. The idea, is for these tables to be set-up in a U-shaped kind of way. This would also enable the teacher to literally step in the middle of the youth, while teaching. This would ultimately allow for teachers to connect better with youth, and be able to walk-around the room, instead of remaining stationary.

                         We are very excited to see how this impacts our learning this school year!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Namesake: John Brashear


            Another year of summer camp has come to an end. It has been a summer full of fun and excitement. Thousands of children and individuals alike for one hundred years, have been impacted by the Brashear Association. Several are quite familiar with the name, Brashear, but few know anything about our association's namesake. Allow us to put the name with the face; the face of a man, whom for a century has changed the lives of many.

         Surprisingly the story begins with science. In the mid-eighteen hundreds a young John Brashear began falling in love with the idea of astronomy.  He began by making a refactor in a workshop behind his home. He would work once he got home from work in the evenings, and on into the night, on his refactor. This is where the road began for John.

         Perhaps you may say it was something of a domino effect for John Brashear. Soon after the completion of his refactor, John began manufacturing his own astronomical and scientific instruments. Each one signed and numbered by hand, by John himself. Little did he know at the time, John would be soon establishing his own company, appropriately named, "The John A. Brashear Company"; gaining world-wide respect.

        Brashear went on to become the director of the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh. It was here that he established a true name for himself. Once his time with the Observatory was through, John went on to be the chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. And then on to become the President of the Academy of Science and Art.

       John began to truly establish roots in Pittsburgh and around the world, quickly becoming a common household name.  He was endearingly called, "Uncle John", by all who knew of him. Brashear's passion for education, and children, is what led to the start of the Brashear Association.

      The Brashear Association was born in the year, `1917, only three years before his death, in 1920. "Uncle John" would be astonished at the momentum that has kept the association going for 100 years. It is in just two weeks that we celebrate the birthday of this incredible association. It has been a full and plentiful 100 years, and thousands of people have been impacted--all with the start of a telescope.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In the Garden

                 It is the last week of Summer Camp, and things are beginning to wind down. There are lots of cool things going on this week, as we wrap-up a fun-filled summer. We kicked-off this week learning about the various parts of a plant. What cycles a plant goes through, what makes a plant grow, etc. We took this simple idea, and turned it into our own little gardens (taking cut-off milk cartons and filling them with soil and seeds). We also had the opportunity to make-up our own plants; they could be made up of anything we wanted them to be. Some of us used seeds that looked like eyeballs, or plants that grew actual money, etc.

                The underlying theme of this entire summer, has truly been to take care of our planet. With this is in mind, everything that we have done has been with recycled materials. This simple idea enables the youth to truly see what can be done with "garbage".

                We had a very special guest with us this week, someone who will be with us for the remainder of the week, Ms. Maggie's Mom. We have had a very enjoyable time learning from Ms.
Sandy, as she has illustrated a children's book, on the various types of plants in a garden.

               We kicked-off today, by learning about the water-cycle. We played a game that showed us how the water cycles works, using buckets of water (clouds) and cups (water molecules). We turned this into a fun race, to see who could get all of the water from their team's bucket, into the buckets the quickest.

                To wrap-up the water cycle, we made our own flowers out of plastic water bottles. These water bottles were cut-up by each of us, to resemble a flower.

We are very excited to see that the rest of the week has in store for us!! We will be in touch!                   


Friday, August 4, 2017

About Me: Miss Abbie

Hello All,
        My name is Abbie Standley, and I will be working with your child for the rest of the summer!! J I am currently a member of the KEYS Service Corps (Americorps), and have actively been working with youth in the Pittsburgh area all summer. I am happy and privileged to be on board at Brashear (ALEC).
            To give you a little more background on myself, I recently graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education/Special Education from Waynesburg University. I am extremely passionate about working with youth, and wanted to expand my horizons, by working with inner-city youth. I am a “transplant” to PA, as I am originally from Columbus, Ohio. I moved here nearly five years ago for college, and never left.
            One of the things that I really try and remind myself, is that I was once a child, too. So I really try and tap into that side, and use that to connect to children of all ages. I truly believe this is key in getting to know them on their level.

   [Me on left]
            In my free time I really enjoy hanging out at new coffee shops, or helping my Mom on her farm. I love being outside! I take advantage of any chance I can get, to just be outside and/or go on an adventure to some foreign place.

I look forward to getting to know this new group of kids better! Here’s to an awesome rest of summer! J

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Venture Outdoors 2017 Camp wk 1

All this green, and we never left the city!

Hello again, blog aficionados! Last week, we had our first four days of Outdoor Camp with Venture Outdoors. We started the week off with hiking in Grandview Park, our favorite local spot to just get away. Walking on the trails obscures the city skyline, making us feel like we were on a mini vacation.

On Tuesday, we hit the water. The overcast skies and cooler weather concerned students at first, but it was actually a perfect day- no sunburns for us! We started at Kayak Pittsburgh, near PNC park and kayaked up the Allegheny River. The bridges sure look different from underneath...

We kept paddling until we reached an old, abandoned, sunken boat. Check out our video below!

Wednesday, we finally got on bikes! There aren't many pictures of bike riding, since our hands were on the bars, but our crew rode from Washington's Landing to the 16th St Bridge and back. A few of our students stayed in the parking lot to work on their skills but were making great progress. Ms. Maggie, who is not a great bike rider, only crashed once!

Thursday, we got back on the trails in Frick Park. We played a few games of Camouflage and Statue as we hiked the trails and learned how to identify woodpecker holes, poison ivy and other important plant life. We ended the day at the Environmental Center, a ZERO energy building, with tons of ways to learn and play.

We even got to catch up with former Brashear Americorps KEYS member, Megan!

Check back next week as we recap what we've been up to in our final week with Venture Outdoors. I'll give you a hint- we are all really sweaty!

Hasta la vista,
Ms. Maggie

Monday, July 31, 2017

Circuit Explosion: 2017 Tech Camp wk 2

Our last week with the YMCA Creator Space was comprised of advanced circuits and new tech like Makey Makeys!

The first day back, we explored SnapCircuits and an incredible game that used our brainwaves to power a circuit and either make a barrel explode or a ball float in the air.

Then, we played an LED Tic Tac Toe & made LED Flashlights.

Finally, we made our own musical keyboard with MakeyMakeys and silly sound clips.


Big thanks to our friends at the YMCA for bringing amazing technology to our students in Allentown. We stretched our STEAM muscles and worked in groups to accomplish a shared vision.

Until afterschool, when the Y returns!
~Ms. Maggie


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