Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Taking It To The Capital!

On Wednesday, May 10th, Education Coordinator, Maggie Negrete and Site Coordinator, Dianna Gil joined over 200 adults and students for Afterschool Advocacy Day in Harrisburg. Our friends at APOST coordinated this annual advocacy trip featuring legislative visits and a rally in the main capital rotunda.

Dianna and I started our day visiting the office of Rep. Harry Readshaw. Mr. Readshaw was not in the office, but we did leave information with his staff regarding our region's policy platform and data pointing to the effectiveness of afterschool programs.

Check out the platform that was created by partners across the state, including APOST, Allies for Children, and Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network (PSAYDN):

This was Site Coordinator, Dianna's
second advocacy trip to Harrisburg.

Policy Priorities:

Sustainability: secure dedicated funding
Efficiency: streamline and align resources
Quality: promote the quality standards

Policy Strategies:

Amplify: communicating and building awareness of Out-of-School Time
Activate: mobilizing the grassroots OST community to advocate and educate influencers
Advance: educating and researching OST impact

After our meeting, Dianna and I explored the capital and were greatly impressed by the strategies used by the welcome center to teach youth about the legislative process- even Rube Goldberg machines!


Our state capital is home to many amazing murals from local artists.

Personally, I was clamoring to see the incredible murals and architectural details in the main rotunda. Edwin Austin Abbey produced the murals in the early 1900s including the "four forces of civilization": Art, Justice, Science and Religion. Additionally, I learned about turn of the century illustrator, Violet Oakley who painted murals in the Senate and Supreme Court chambers.

We ended our day in the rotunda for the afterschool rally featuring our local representative Jake Wheatley and a performance by our friends at the Hope Academy.

Check out our twitter (@BrashearKids) for more updates from throughout the day.

See yinz next time,


Monday, May 22, 2017

A Farewell to Food & Garden Club

Our final food and garden club at Arlington K-8 has arrived.  This was a very special session, as we had a guest chef and food stylist, Quelcy Kogel!  Quelcy has done food styling for many companies, from Eat N' Park to TABLE Magazine.  

You may ask yourself, what is a food stylist?  Well, a food stylist is someone who practices the art of arranging food so that it looks tasty and fresh. This is important in a number of situations, particularly when the food is being photographed.  You can check out Quelcy's blog here for recipes, services, and other recent work!

During this session of food and garden club, Quelcy prepared a carrot ginger "pesto" pasta.  She began the discussion with the topic of what exactly a food stylist does.  Quelcy passed around TABLE magazines so the students could view some work she has completed before we started.  It was great to see her work in order to gain a better understanding of her career, as most of us had never heard of a food stylist before!

First, Quelcy reviewed our ingredients.  This included avocado oil, sunflower seeds, garlic cloves, roasted carrots, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, lemon, parsley, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese, Check out our ingredients below!

The ingredients were passed around for the students to smell and examine.  Students at the Neighborhood Learning Alliance enjoy the chance to utilize their five senses!  Many were surprised at the strong smells of ginger and turmeric; we love seeing their reactions to new foods and spices.

Quelcy and a student volunteer added the carrots and other ingredients.  The warriors in the NLA after school program jump at the chance to be an assistant in cooking!

The students and staff were surprised at the spicy flavor from the cayenne!  Overall, everyone enjoyed cooking something very different from our other recipes and tasting new foods.

Thanks for checking out our final food and garden club of the school year!  Special shout out to the Neighborhood Learning Alliance for their eagerness to learn and positive attitudes.  Thank you Quelcy for donating your time and materials.

Put Good In!
- Anna

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Student of the Week 5-15-17

Favorite radio station: None
Favorite type of music: hip hop
Favorite Music Artist/Singer:  None
Favorite Song: "I wish I was like Drake"
If you were to write a song, what would it be about? sans
Would your song be fast or slow? fast
Would your song be happy or sad? in the middle
What would the title of your song be? I don't know


My name is: Keliyah
I am: 11 years old
My favorite color is: yellow 
I was born on: July 6, 2005
I live in: the Allentown area
My favorite number is: 7
My favorite animal is: zebra or giraffe
My favorite food is: greens, ribs & potato salad
I like to: eat & play minecraft
When I grow up I want to be a: lawyer (prosecutor) 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Brashear Goes to the Opera: The Summer King

For our final field trip of the school year, Brashear Kids went to the Benedum for Pittsburgh Opera's debut of The Summer King about local Negro League all star and native Pittsburgher, Josh Gibson.

About the Opera:
The very first world premiere in Pittsburgh Opera’s distinguished 78 year history hits close to home. The Summer King tells the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson. Josh went from the sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness in the Negro Leagues, before ultimately being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. 
photos & description provided by the Pittsburgh Opera
The Summer King follows Josh at key points in his life, including his playing days in the Negro Leagues as well as in Mexico, where he was awarded the MVP award while playing for the Veracruz Azules...   
Like all African Americans at the time, Josh was prohibited from playing in the Major Leagues by what was disingenuously referred to as a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the Major League clubs. Sadly, Josh died at the age of 35, felled by a stroke shortly before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Our trip was a delight for parents and kids alike. Adults remembered the various locations, like the Crawford Grille, as places where their grandparents and Pittsburgh's Black social elite congregated, while our youth were in awe of the Benedum's architecture.

Thank you again to the Pittsburgh Opera and Education Director, Marilyn Egan for their amazing work and commitment to providing our youth with awesome cultural opportunities like these!

See yinz next time,


Friday, May 12, 2017

Students of the Week 5-8-2017

Favorite radio station: Big G
Favorite type of music: techno
Favorite Music Artist/Singer: Lloyed Brewer
Favorite Song: I don't have one
If you were to write a song, what would it be about?  love
Would your song be fast or slow?  fast
Would your song be happy or sad? happy
What would the title of your song be? C.J.


Favorite radio station: WAMO 100
Favorite type of music: a-boogie
Favorite Music Artist/Singer: Sydney Renae
Favorite Song: "Still Think About You"
If you were to write a song, what would it be about? a little girl who has swag
Would your song be fast or slow? both
Would your song be happy or sad? happy
What would the title of your song be? "A Little Girl Who Has Swag"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Super Slime!

Ms. Anna's class continued their adventure in chemical and physical reactions with a spooky experiment; super slime!  This is an experiment most of our students have previously completed in school, but they never seem to tire of it.  

Before this experiment, we learned a couple new terms; monomer and polymer.  Check out our definitions below!

We demonstrated monomers by using legos.  Subsequently, we then linked them together to demonstrate polymers.  Before we talk about examples, I want to point out that there are two types of polymers: synthetic and natural.  An example of a synthetic polymer is gum and a natural polymer we all have in our bodies is muscle.  

The polymer in this experiment is our glue.  It holds together the water, borax, and food coloring.  Check out our video below!

After we completed the experiment it was time to let the kids have a go!  They love helping me in the classroom and trying things out.

Then it was time for the best part; testing the viscosity of our slime!  I asked the students if they thought this reaction was chemical or physical.  It's physical!  Why?  That's due to the molecules linking together to form new ones.  The slime cannot be reverted back to its original mixture of borax, glue and water.

Thanks for checking out our slime experiment.  Stay tuned for more adventures in STEAM!

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!
- Anna

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rock Candy with Ms. Anna's Class

Welcome back for one of our most exciting lesson's yet!  Our last science lesson introduced the concept of chemical reactions.  This time, the 4th and 5th grade students were elated to explore a physical reaction- rock candy!

Examples from the kitchen are a great way to explain physical versus chemical reactions.  During this lesson I used the example of toast to compare to our rock candy in order to decide; is it chemical, or is it physical?  Making toast is a chemical reaction due to the rearrangement of molecules during the toasting process.  Bread can be turned into toast, but toast can't turn back into bread!  Our rock candy is an example of a physical reaction.  Why?  The sugar dissolves, but does not disappear or form a new substance in conjunction with the water.

Before the kids arrived for the day I prepared a super saturated solution of sugar and water along with a plate of sugar to roll our candy sticks in.  This is done in order to make sure the crystals form on the stick.

Before jumping into our lesson, we watched a brief cooking demo.  After the demo I introduced a few new definitions to our STEAM adventures with the help of our students.

In this experiment, our solute was the sugar and water was the solvent.  Why is a review of the term evaporation important to this physical reaction?  As the water evaporates, it will cause the super saturated solution to become even more saturated; therefore helping the crystals grow!

Each student received a glass jar with their name on it for their rock candy.  Students were given half a skewer to roll in sugar with teacher assistance.  After each student received super saturated solution, they were given the choice to add two drops of food coloring.  The skewers were then clipped with a clothespin at the top of the jar, leaving 1" of space between the stick and the bottom of the jar.

The students waited patiently with excitement for the rock candy to grow over Spring break.  It turned out we had to wait a few weeks after since the process took longer than we initially thought.  The students were elated to reveal their rock candy!  They did not turn out as crystallized as we thought, but the students were still excited to eat it.

ElayJaih proudly shows off her rock candy.

While the students were munching on their candy we discussed reasons why it did not turn out fully crystallized.  These included vibration, boil temperature of the solution, air particles; just to name a few.  If we performed this experiment in the future, I would adjust the boil temperature of the super saturated solution, or cover the jars with wax paper.

Clockwise from left: Kiyanah, ElayJaih, and Edwin enjoy their science experiments.

Lastly, dumping the solution from the mason jars revealed a cool "sugar cave"!  Some chose to eat this part, others just marveled at the crystals.

Rock Out!
- Anna


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