Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Milk Shakes and Penny Launchers

To celebrate the opening of Breakfast at Shelly's a few weeks ago we brought the ALEC kids down for milkshakes! They had a blast choosing their flavors and having the place to themselves. Everyone working was so great and made the trip so easy and fun!

Next stop was the opening of Academy Pittsburgh which is a new organization aimed towards teaching coding and other useful computer skills. Our kids watched a great presentation on the uses of 3-D printing and were able to check out some of the products made on site!

We also learned how to use penny launchers which were created by the 3-D printers. It was a lot of fun putting the pieces together and seeing how the printers were able to create many different types of objects.

Here are some great shots taken by Ryan Haggerty of Haggerty Media at the event.

Thanks again to Breakfast at Shelly's and Academy Pittsburgh for sharing your space with us and making this great field trip possible!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Another Saturday, More Clay!

    A few Saturdays ago Ms. Jolie held a clay session for the youth.  She volunteers with us frequently at ALEC and this was her second clay session for us.  The youth really enjoy being able to create using the clay.  

    We had a big turnout that day, so teach youth only had a few minutes with the clay, but they still managed to handle waiting their turn.  They enjoyed having to do something a little bit more difficult as well.  Jolie comes to us from Pittsburgh's own Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.  For more info on them, check our their site here.  Have a great weekend!

- Steven

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Neighborhood Voice Project!!

The past few weeks we have been working on a service project with the youth in Allentown to create a campaign of active youth voice throughout the neighborhood. It is important for any community that the youth and families feel involved and empowered to participate and speak up about things that matter to them. We had a workshop and asked the youth what positive messages they wanted to share with their community. Then we got to work! Each child was able to put their message along with their own original artwork onto a poster.

The kids had some really great ideas and were pretty excited to share them with the community. It was great to see how creative the youth wanted to get with their designs. We got so many wonderful posters that really share the feelings we have here at ALEC!

This week we threw a party for the final day of our project. All families of the participants were invited as well as any members of the community. We had a lot of activities like decorating t-shirts we had designed by Common Wealth Press and other fun crafts and games to continue the fun of the project.

Once all the young artists arrived we set out to pass hang up the posters in the businesses along Warrington Ave. We brought lots of chalk so the kids and families could decorate the whole street with their positivity and artwork.

Overall the day went really great. The businesses were so welcoming and the kids loved being able to bring something they created themselves and hang it up in the window. Walking down the street you can see that the youth really put their hearts into their work and it does brighten things up.

We want to thank all those who participated and helped to make this project possible:
Neighborhood Allies (Grant Funding)
Sweet Peaches (Catering)
CommonWealth Press (T-Shirts)

And all businesses who helped us share our art in their window:
A Giving Heart
Daily Mart
Black Forge Coffee House
Amsler's Pharmacy 
412 Kidz
Work Hard
Breakfast at Shelly's
Paisano's Pizzeria
Leon's Carribean
Boost Mobile
Metro PCS

We love working with Allentown where everyone is so willing to help and get involved in the community. The youth here are really inspiring and I know the positivity can only continue to grow!


April Showers Bring....Window Painting!

    As our days are now filled with plenty of sun, and trees and flowers across the city are starting to bloom, we felt it was time to change our window scene!  As the saying goes, "April showers bring May flowers."  

    Initially we used a tempura paint on the window, but it ended up dripping down the window.  After searching a little harder we found the acrylic paint and went back over most of the art with it, which helped to make the colors a bit more solid and easier to see.

    For a detailed explanation of how to print large images to paint for the window, check out this past blog post.  The kids usually have a good time decorating the window, so we will be sure to do it at least once more before we end in May.  Thanks for checking back!

- Steven

Monday, April 18, 2016

Venture Outdoors Awards and More!

   Last week was our second to last Monday with Venture Outdoors, and the trip leaders brought the students certificates and a gift - a water bottle!  The ecofriendly, hard plastic water bottles were prized by all, and the students continue to use them as we have seen them everyday since they were passed out.

    The trip leaders had several outdoor games planned as well, even though the weather wasn't the best.  Starting off with some simple circle games, we progressed to the more complicated but still team-oriented event.

    For lack of a better name, the log walk was a huge hit.  The youth enjoyed racing each other and trying different combinations of teams, and once they had the hang of it they worked well together!  The rain and cold did little to distract them from having fun!

    With only one more outing left with Venture Outdoors, we can only say thank you for such an awesome year!  We explored many different outdoor activities, we talked about why nature and the outdoors is so important to us, and how we can continue to protect and enjoy it!  A huge thank you to everyone who made it possible for them to share these experiences and lead us all year long!

- Steven

"Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit."
- Edward Abbey

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Brashear Teens: Crash Course in Chemistry!

Hey guys! Danyelle here again from the Hilltop YMCA. Even though the center is temporarily closed, we still had a great turnout for our day of science exploration with Ms. Brittany from Alcosan's Scholastic Outreach team.

After reviewing what Alcosan does for our communities, she discussed how STEM plays a HUGE role in their processes and related basic chemistry to the larger, more complex activities they conduct at the plant. The students really enjoy working with Ms. Brittany and they have retained a lot of the things she's shared with them!

Ms. Brittany started off the lesson by teaching the students some basics about the pH scale and how substances are acidic, basic, or neutral. Then she had the students guess if specific liquids were acids, bases, or neutral and then to estimate their number on the pH scale. Next they tested the liquids with litmus paper to see how well their guesses matched with the actual number on the pH scale. (The teens learned how to put the scientific method into action!)

We wrapped up the lesson by talking about what substances could be in each of the solutions that would determine the pH level and did some mixing to see what altering the solutions would do to the acidity/base level. Everyone had a great time learning about chemistry with Ms. Brittany. We can't wait for her return next month for another lesson and some outreach at Hilltop Community Days!

Join us next Wednesday, April 13 as Ms. Liz returns from GPCFB's Kids Cook to do some nutrition education and make a tasty, healthy snack with the teens! See you at 4! Bring a friend! The doors open at 3:30!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pop Art Block Printing

This week for art we looked at the fun and colorful style of pop art! We talked about different methods like screen printing and stamping. For our projects we used some pretty simple steps to create our designs.

Supplies: styrofoam plates, tempura paint, rollers, paint brushes, drawing paper

Step 1: The kids each drew (lightly)  a picture on a square of styrofoam that I cut out from plates. The designs were simple and without to many small details or lines.
Step 2: Once the design was sketched the kids traced over them harder with pencils creating deep lines.
Step 3: The tempera paint was set out for the kids to choose a color and then roll the paint onto their Styrofoam
Step 4: Next we flipped the Styrofoam onto sketching construction paper and pressed them down with dry rollers.
Step 5: Once the paint had transferred we gave the kids some extra paint to fill in more details and add more colors

The kids loved making patterns and testing different lines. Everyone got to make a few different pieces. They all turned out really great and so colorful!



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