Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christmas in July at the Rowdy Buck

Join the Brashear Association for fun, food, and drink as we kick off our Holiday Helping Season! Admission is one new, unwrapped toy or a $10 donation. There will be free appetizers, cash bar, and lots of great raffle prizes donated by local South Side businesses. Go to our Facebook event for more details

We hope to see you there!


Summer Camp at ALEC: Week Four

Our last week at our ALEC summer camp was a blast. We certainly had a lot of fun.
On Monday we put our engineering skills to the test and made creative masterpieces with the blocks by making castles, courtyards, forts, and whatever we could think of. We started a large papier mache octopus that will be an ongoing project during the next few weeks and once finished will be displayed at ALEC.

On Tuesday Leah of the Brazen Kitchen came and showed our students how to make yummy vegetarian tacos. You can see more of the recipe and tutorial here. Miss Emily taught us about Italy and Roman mythology as well as a traditional Italian game. We designed our mythical gods, some of those made up gods included gods of love, markers, shark boy and lava girl.

On Wednesday Jeanne from the Knoxville Carnegie Library returned to talk about garbage. She read our students a clever book about a garbage barge that traveled all over and could not find a place to dump it's garbage. We conducted a few experiments on plastics afterward, attempting to poke a skewer through a balloon and made silly putty, we even picked the colors we wanted the silly putty to be.

Thursday was our last day of summer camp and we had a big party with great snacks, smoothies, guessing games and Bingo! Our students were very excited about this game, Bingo halls across Pittsburgh better watch out. We ended the day by watching Frozen which included quite a bit of singing and belting out "Let it Go" as loud and as theatrically possible. 

ALEC summer camp is now at a close and we are open for normal summer youth hours for drop in visitors. We appreciate everyone who has made our camp possible from our special guests to our friends at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to our supporters and donors. Thank you!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Taco Tuesday: Leah of the Brazen Kitchen Comes to ALEC

Everyone loves Taco Tuesday, we were lucky to have Leah of the Brazen Kitchen come and make vegetarian tacos with our students. 

Here's what you'll need to make your own tasty tacos at home:

1 1/2 c. peas in their pods, chopped. Most of our students had never tried raw peas, and they were pleasantly surprised that they were so good!
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. olive oil for the saute pans
Corn tortillas (Leah bought her's from Reyna's located in Pittsburgh's Strip District)

Heat up the oil in two saute pans, one for the vegetables and beans and one for the tortillas.  Then, add the the vegetarian mixture (peas, pods, red pepper and black beans) to one saute pan. Start to warm up a tortilla in the other pan.

Stir the vegetarian mixture until it's hot. When the vegetables are bright in color and the beans are heated through, the mixture is complete.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to warm up tortillas in the other pan, as many as you need.

The final step, enjoy your tacos! Leah brought fresh salsa and guacamole, also from Reyna's, which was delicious.  She also has an amazing recipe for "guacaboule" on her website if you want to make your own. Tacos are a messy food, and that's okay. Half the fun is trying to keep everything wrapped in the taco!

- Renee

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Camp at ALEC: Week Three

Week three of summer camp was filled with fun! On Monday, we made sock puppets with googly-eyes and eccentric outfits crafted from recycled fabrics. 

On Tuesday, our culture lesson was about Egypt. We identified Egypt on the map, and then we learned about the ancient art of mummification and hieroglyphics.  We had a mummy wrapping contest using toilet paper.  Hunter's team won for wrapping her up in the most "mummy-like" fashion. Students then took a hieroglyphic alphabet and drew out their names or messages.  Gage's message was "friendship".   

On Wednesday, Noreeen from the McGinnis Sisters was our guest. She made smoothies from bananas, blueberries, strawberries, Fage yogurt and almond milk. She was very accommodating with the smoothies and allowed the students to pick which ingredients they wanted to include or exclude. She also brought some extra fresh fruit to to take home. 

Jeanne and Sierra from the Knoxville library also came on Wednesday, and we learned all about detective work: how to follow clues and make fingerprints. We also read a clever book about mystery of Humpty Dumpty's fall. 

Thursday was a big day filled with activities, which was made possible by our friends at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Our students enjoyed a tour of Pittsburgh with Molly's Trolleys, a ride on the Duquesne Incline, ice cream from Dream Cream downtown, and then back to ALEC to greet the farmers from Common Ground who brought fresh produce to share.  Along with veggies from Common Ground, each student received their own cooking starter kit. They took home their own measuring cups, spoons, bowls and kitchen timers. We're excited to hear what they've been making at home.


Monday, June 30, 2014

RiverQuest: It's Alive! Ecoadventure

We enjoyed a beautiful day on the river with our students, which was made possible through our connection to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Thank you CLP!

During week two of our summer camp at ALEC, we went on a field trip to Pittsburgh's North Shore and boarded the RiverQuest"RiverQuest {formerly known as Pittsburgh Voyager, Inc.}is a non-profit educational organization that operates a river learning center for students, teachers and the community of Southwestern Pennsylvania...RiverQuest's educational philosophy is familiar and time-tested: Tell me, I'll forget; Show me, I might remember; Involve me, I'll understand."  

 As the students explored our three rivers, they learned about the rivers' ecosystems and the food chain. With microscopes, they studied phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Pittsburgh's rivers are teeming with wildlife. Once the science experiments were finished, they spent a little time out on the dock, searching for birds with binoculors. 

- Renee

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Camp at ALEC: Week Two

We just completed another packed week of summer camp at the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center (ALEC)! This week included a treasure hunt, Central American food and crafts, and even an adventurous field trip on the river.

For Monday's project, we decorated T-shirts, using permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to create colorful tie-dye effects. We also stamped the shirts with the Brashear Kids logo. For snack, we made our own guacamole. There was also much excitement from a treasure hunt... the students had to follow tricky clues around ALEC to discover hidden treasure chests.

On Tuesday, we learned about Central American countries. We played the Mexican Hat Dance, and the winner had the delight of taking home a sombrero! Students got very creative when we made worry dolls from Guatemala.

On Wednesday, Jeanne from the Knoxville Library paid us a visit, and this week the topic was rocks, minerals and fossils. She brought a beautiful and informative book called A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long. She also showed Let's Look at Dinosaurs, a pop up book by Frances Barry, and we talked about dinosaur extinction theories and how dinosaurs are displayed in museums. For our hands-on activities, we excavated chocolate cookies like archaeologists and identified rocks, which even involved looking at them under a black light.

On Thursday, we went on an exciting RiverQuest field trip! We traveled Pittsburgh's Three Rivers, while learning about the river ecosystem and food chain. We examined river water under microscopes, taking a good look at phytoplankton and zooplankton. We also learned about the fishes and eels found in the rivers, and even got to do a little bird watching.

Thanks to all the kids for coming to camp with good attitudes and a zest for life! Thanks also to our volunteers, guest presenters and staff for putting together great programs at ALEC.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Easy Mini Pizzas with Fresh Pesto

We love welcoming guests to ALEC to share their knowledge with our students.  As part of our summer camp, we emphasize healthy eating, so we invited Bek from Sweet Peaches on Warrington Ave. to come teach us how to make a delicious pesto.

With the help of her daughter, Bek laid out a detailed how-to on pesto preparation.

Here's her recipe:

2 c. chopped basil. She brought a gorgeous bunch of dark purple basil because of its less intense licorice flavor.
2 cloves garlic chopped
2/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. pine nuts. Our students loved these little buttery, nutty seeds.
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese. For our batch, she used an aged parmigiano reggiano.

Blend until thick. Salt and pepper to taste.  Last step-- one squirt of lemon juice.

We put our pesto on top of whole wheat english muffins and added a little mozzarella cheese to make mini pizzas. Popped them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and voila, we had an easy, delicious snack for our students.

- Renee


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