Thursday, June 23, 2016

ECO Camp Week 1: Healthy Eating, Energy, and Gardening

 Summer camps are finally here! We are starting off with two weeks of Eco Camp. We are talking all about the environment and how all of us can understand and care for our Earth.

Our first day was focused on healthy eating and other healthy habits. We talked with each of the classes about different types of food like proteins, vegetables, fruit, etc. and the benefits from each. There were some fun sorting games to remember our food groups and why each one is important. Each of the kids were able to come up with their own unique healthy snacks to share with the class you can check out below. We also talked about where our food comes from and and Mr. Steven's class played a game of jeopardy to test their new skills!


For our second day we took a look at renewable energy! We talked about all of the things we do each day that use energy like turning on lights and cooking our food. Many of the kids never really thought where electricity comes from beyond the outlets in our houses. The class learned about fossil fuels and alternative renewable forms of energy and how each impacts the earth. Eco camp is all about sustainability and energy use is a big form of that. My class was able to use our Green Snap Circuit kit to light up bulbs using a fan and a mini solar panel. Mr. Steven's class took a look at their personal impact on the Earth and how they could do their part by creating their carbon footprints by stamping their feet! A lot of the kids had great suggestions like turning off lights and riding bikes instead of riding in the car.


Wednesday was our gardening day and we were able to get to work in our backyard garden. The first group of kids got to harvest our radishes for our snack. They loved digging in the dirt and being first to try the radishes!


Our radishes were a little small, but we had so many and the kids were really proud to bring it all in and show the rest of their classmates.


Next came the preparation! Mrs. Amber showed a few of the kids how to rinse and cut the radishes so they would be ready for our salads. Some of the kids even got to try it our themselves!


We also learned about composting and how we can use every part of a plant to give back to the earth and our gardens. The kids are used to giving us their scraps to compost, but this time they got to dump it themselves in the big bin! It was great to see they were excited to help and not afraid to see the trash or get a little dirty.


While one group harvested the second group planted in all of our new seedlings. They did it all on their own, digging the holes, getting the plants in, and watering them afterward. Through out the summer the kids will be able to watch their plants grow and continue to take care of them.


 It's been a great first few days and the week isn't over yet! The summer is off to a great start!

-Sarah

Brashear Saturday: Hilltop Festival N3D (Next 3 Days)



Last Saturday, we took a walk to Grandview park to check out the Hilltop Festival.


This event celebrated the Hilltop area and its local businesses.


During our visit, students enjoyed the food and music, doing crafts, playing bingo, and making flowers out of recycled plastic bags.


The students also got to play with the giant beach ball provided by City of Play and visit the goats from Steel City Grazers.


Perhaps the most popular activity of the day was getting crazy balloon hats.


We enjoyed spending the day with the students at a community event, where they were able to experience fun activities that we would not always be able to do!  And thanks to all the dog owners who brought out the pups - the kids love em!

-Shannon 




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GTECH Work Day Update: 6/16

    Last week we had another work day with GTECH to keep moving along with our Green Playce.  We did a little maintenance on a few pieces, and attempted to get the dirt pile a wee bit smaller (we were sort of successful, although it is hard to tell).  


    One of the big plans was to get new dirt into the garden and to pick out the weeds.  Pictured are some radishes and spinach.  



    Work continued on the birds nest and steps leading to the slide to the left of the nest.  A lot of the dirt will be brought up there to help form a solid foundation for the slide.



    Once again, a HUGE thank you to GTECH for making this project possible and for supplying us with these opportunities to be a part of the process.  We are ecstatic to keep working and moving forward with the project.

    GTECH's site can be found here, while the Green Playces project overview can be seen here!

    To check out some of what it used to look like you can either check out blog posts from the school year programming, or take a look at our past blog post about the volunteer work day with American Eagle Outfitters.

- Steven

Thursday, June 9, 2016

GTECH Green Playces - AEO work day @ ALEC!


    We had the utmost pleasure to have a GTECH volunteer work day at ALEC.  The volunteers were staff from AEO here in Pittsburgh!  American Eagle also presented GTECH with a check to assist with expenses in building the ALEC Green Playce.  


    Several projects were scheduled for the day.  Painting all wood surfaces, starting work on the birds nest space, and starting the slope for the slide.  Groups also finished the other 3 mobile planters, and helped clear out much of the weeds and rocks on the slope.  A few volunteers also created a "pizza garden", which is split into section to grow typical herbs used in pizza and pasta sauces.











    A HUGE thank you to AEO Better World volunteers for coming to our site, GTECH Stategies for our Green Playce, and Pittsburgh Cares for helping arrange this work day!  We are on our way towards a completed Green Playce!

- To read about past AEO Better World Community Day projects, click here!
- For info about GTECH and the Green Playces projects, click this one!
- For info about volunteering with Pittsburgh Cares, you should definitely click here!
    Also check out these hashtags on social media - #aeobetterworld and #greenplayces - to stay up to date on their projects!

- Steven

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

ALEC Wish List 2016




Can you believe it's been a whole year since we moved into our Warrington Avenue location! Time flies!

With the afterschool year at a close, we have been working to clean up and improve our space so we can get the most out of what we have for our youth  programs and prepare for camps and the fall semester.
There are a lot of exciting things coming up for our youth at ALEC, the biggest of which is our partnership with Gtech and their graciousness to allow our site be a Green Playces project with the great support of RE360.

Last year I created a wish list which was super helpful and made our transition into the new space much easier with such generous support from our partners and friends. Well, after a year in this space we have taken time to settle in and acclimate ourselves to the larger space and we are aware there are a few items we could use to start off our summer camps and get us ready for the upcoming year.
We would be happy to accept the following items in new or gently used condition.


Allentown Learning & Engagement Center Wish List


Wire Shelving Units (2-4) 
We have struggle for storage this year with art supplies, snacks/kitchen tools and other materials in our closet space and public spaces.  An additional 2-4 shelves would be very helpful to keep things more organized and efficient. 
We recently received two metal cabinets from Phillips Elementary school! Thanks to our friends at Phillips, Cupkas, Ken Wolfe and Barb Rudiak! 
Storage containers (up to 20) 
Update: we could use 5-7 of the long rectangular crates
We have been operating with old cardboard boxes and discarded plastic containers for quite awhile. It would be great to have some storage options that are sturdy and can last us much longer than 6-9 months at a time.
These rectangular milk crates are preferred as they fit the shelves best we can also use pre-loved square milk crates as well.
Thanks to Work Hard Pgh and the CLP Knoxville we have received about 18 cubed crates!   

Tablets (10-15)We are working to incorporate more coding into our overall youth programs, but we are very short on tablets that could be used in these lessons. The link above are to simple, and affordable, NeuTab tablets. However we are open to tablets of all kinds, ipads and other web ready and application based tablets work well. Cases would also be helpful.
Currently our students take turns on a few devices but if we were to have up to 15 we could allow them to pair up for coding lessons.


Felt hanging planters (4-8)
We are always looking for new ways to maximize our space. The garden area has been a huge hit with the kids and with hanging planters we could add a lot more space for growing!


Games
The youth are always in need of more games so we put together a list of our top hits or most requested. In addition we have been adding more techy games to our collections so additional circuit boards would allow for more kids to participate in our snap circuits. Our Kano computer has been a great success as well and with another one we could include more kids and use it in both classrooms so that all of our kids could benefit.





Globe and White BoardWe have found that having a globe and an additional whiteboard in each classroom would be very helpful since we run two separate lessons at the same time. 
Whiteboard was generously donated by the CLP Knoxville branch!
We received a few globes from Phillips Elementary school! 

Magnetic Dry-Erase Board Lightweight Aluminum Flip Chart Presentation Easel
Elenco EDU36899A Desktop Political Globe, 11-Inch




Dictionaries (2-4)
We are focusing on getting the youth to improve their reading skills and to encourage them to discover and learn new words on their own. Having dictionaries readily available in the classroom would really help to promote these ideas. We currently have a dictionary but it is outdated and is used quite a bit.
We received a few used dictionaries from a couple different sources. Thank you!




Book series
Of course we always are looking to get our kids into reading and the best way to do that is to get them hooked on a new series. We included a list of popular series and ones we know our kids are interested in. 



Art SuppliesArt supplies go by pretty quick here. We do a lot of crafts and activities with art so we are always in need of supplies to use. 


Serving tray (like a sturdy cafeteria tray) (4-6)
We often have the kids eating and sharing healthy snacks. To make it easier for the kids to help and carry snacks to their classmates or neighbors we are looking for serving trays with handles that would be strong and easy to hold.
Trays were donated from Phillips Elementary school! 
Yellow 4-Pack Montessori Stackable Trays with Handles Set




Gift Cards
Again, We are very open to gently used and pre-loved items. We are all about reusing items and reducing our impact on the earth.

If you are able to assist with any of these items, cash/gift cards or have further questions about the listed items, please contact Amber Rooke at arooke@brashearassociation.org or call ALEC at 412.620.8282.


Thank you for all the support throughout the year! The Brashear Association wouldn't be able to have all the programming and opportunities for our youth without the partnerships and kindness we have from the community.  Please do not hesitate to share this list via social media and other networks.


Thank you so much,

-Amber
Special thanks to our Americorps KEYS, Sarah Long, for her assistance in this compilation.

Technical difficulties: We apologize for the inconsistencies in the text size and fonts. We seem to be have some technical issues with Blogger that simply cannot be remedied at this time. Thank you for your patience in seeing past this.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Saturday @ ALEC: Watercolor!


    It was not a huge group this time around for our Saturday club, but that just meant those who showed up had more time and chances to paint!  We set up for some seriously awesome watercolor painting, and we were not disappointed!


    Among the artwork were: Naruto, rainbows, Batman's Robin, and Princess Tiana.  We ended up having pictures on the T.V. screen for the students to base their artwork off of.  As I said, it was a small group but we spent a solid 1.5 hours painting, and it was a relaxing time!

- Steven

Monday, June 6, 2016

Last Day at ALEC!



    Boy, has this school year flown by.  May 19th was the last day of the ALEC afterschool program.  We spent our last day together doing several free time activities.


    Some students chose to play games with Miss Sarah, Miss Shannon, and Mr. Steven.  Among the most popular games were Connect Four and Headbands. 


    Miss Amber led a few students around the community to share clementines with our neighbors, then spent the afternoon gardening in our outdoor space.



    Miss Dianna ended the day by leading the bingo games.  We had several winners and lots of prizes to choose from.



    We said goodbye by giving students end of the year awards and prizes.  Some of our end of the year awards included most imaginative and most helpful.

    Thanks to all of the volunteers and organizations who made our program a success this year.


    Though we are sad the year has come to an end, we are excited to start our summer camps. We hope to see you there!

-Shannon

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