Thursday, February 4, 2016

Brashear Teens: Alternative Energy with Adam Solar Resources

Hey guys! Danyelle again from the Hilltop YMCA. This week we combined our teen programming with the Hilltop kids for a special presentation from Adam Rossi from Adam Solar Resources in Bridgeville, PA. This week, the kids were learning about snap circuits and energy transfer. Adam came in to talk about solar power energy, electric-powered vehicles, and entrepreneurship. Every one was really interested in all the cool gadgets Adam brought with him and the technological advances that are going on in the world of alternative energy.

Adam discussed various types of energy sources, including coal, natural gas, oil, wind, water, and, of course, solar (light). He then explained how solar panels worked as he showed us pieces of their construction, as well as how to use a sunshine recorder to maximize the amount of light absorbed by the panels during a day.

Adam also brought some really interesting electric-powered devices with him, including new light-up turn-signal gloves and a scooter that can go 20 MPH! Just like the ones the Pittsburgh Pirates have! (click here!)

The kids and teens even got to work together to take apart a Hoverboard to learn about how it works! The highlight of the night though, was when the kids got to take it for a test drive! Although the younger kids needed some help...

As you can see, everyone had a great time learning about alternative energy with Adam and we're so grateful he stopped by to share his love of technology with us!

Join us next week on Wednesday, February 10 from 4-5 PM as Liz returns to cook up some tasty treats with Kids Cook! Bring a friend! See you there!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Community Day with the Pittsburgh Police

    Hello again!  Our most recent community day was a great time of conversation with two police officers from PPD Zone 3, right here on the corner of Warrington Avenue.  The hope of this community day was that the kids would see police officers like they see themselves; people who used to be running around and having fun with theirs friends, going to school, doing homework, playing sports, etc.

    While the conversation didn't exactly stay on topics such as those, we all felt it was good for the kids to ask their questions, even if they were based on misconceptions.  The two officers did their best to help the kids understand that they are there to help and protect anyone and everyone who is in danger.  Unfortunately, the habit of our media provides many extreme examples of police that deter many people from even asking for that help and/or protection.

    A few of the kids were nervous, but as the conversation went on they became more comfortable asking their questions.  All in all it was a good opportunity for the kids to gain more of an understanding of the job of police in our communities, and for the police to understand more about the kids of this specific community.  Understanding, respect; these things are two-way streets.

    As we begin to see individuals from a perspective separate from the group we associate them with, we can better understand them.  By doing this we can break down societal stereotypes and gain a better understanding of our community, as well as our place in it.

- Steven

"Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest.  When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart."
- Ed Koch

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Brashear Teens: Stained Glass art

Hey, guys! Danyelle from the Hilltop here sharing another amazing activity by our Brashear Teens this week! Stained glass windows are beautiful works that can actually be easily recreated at home on a smaller scale and budget! I got my supplies on a recent trip to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and I was surprised what great goodies you could find for such low prices. The best part is, all of these items are being reused & 'upcycled' into new masterpieces of individual expression!

Although I'm not quite sure what I bought as a medium, they are 4x6" rectangles of plexi-glass, which is a much safer option than fragile glass. In addition, paint specifically made for glass is essential since other materials would not maintain contact/dry adequately.

The teens got right to work painting their 'tiles' to any design of their choosing. Some students chose to model them after traditional stained glass designs, while others selected a more personalized touch. Every one was intently focused on his/her piece and determined to make it their own work of art!

Unfortunately, the 'stain' takes at least 8-10 hours to completely dry so that the light can shine through. The finished products are amazing though! I can't wait for the group to pick them up this afternoon! I'm so proud of them!

Join us next week as we explore alternative energy with Adam Rossi from Adam Solar Resources on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 5 PM. Bring a friend & see you there!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Day Indoors!

Another fun day with the library! This week Miss Laura brought us some fun snow themed activities. We read a little about how snowflakes are created and all the different ways snowflakes can be structured. We all learned a lot of new things to really make us look at snow differently! As usual she had a craft to go along with our book. With just Styrofoam cups, balloons and paper, we made some snowman snow shooters.

  • The kids cut out snowman faces and glued them onto the cups, which already had the bottoms cut out.
  • Next step is to cut a balloon in half so that the bottom will fit over the bottom of the cup.
  • Once that balloon is attached: load up your cotton balls, aim, pull the balloon back, and fire!

Cotton ball snow fights were happening all around! A great game to play when the kids love snow, but it's way too cold to be outside. 

Thanks again Laura! Can't wait to see what the theme is next time!


Friday, January 22, 2016

Exploring Engineering and Dactyloscopy!

    Hey everyone!  We kicked off our third week of the new year with Hilltop YMCA's crew for our Science Tuesday.  As they started off the school year with the 4th and 5th grade class, they have now switched to the 2nd and 3rd grade class.  

    The project they tasked the kids with was building a structure, using paper and tape, that would support a small stuffed animal.  The structure had to be at least 10 inches tall.

    The kids experimented using different shapes like squares and triangles, and even a few cylinders.  At the end, they were all able to test their structure using Mr. Snail.  

    The 4th and 5th grade class had a lesson about Dactyloscopy, which is the classification and identification of fingerprints.  Mr. Steven showed them some pictures of modern technology that is used with crime scene analysis and by police and the FBI.

    After the short lesson, the kids were able to use baby powder and clear scotch packaging tape to put their own fingerprints on the dark colored paper.  Some of the kids had already done this in school, so they helped Mr. Steven by assisting the other students.  

    After this, they used the powder and a cotton ball to "dust" for prints around the room.  It quickly got out of hand and turned into a powder war, so a word to the wise - be very clear about what they can and cannot dust.  While it was a good idea, in practice it turned out to be a bit too much freedom.  The kids helped clean up, however, and the point was made that if you get something dirty, you should be willing to help clean it up.  

- Sarah

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Brashear Teens: Holy Guacamole!

Hey guys! Danyelle at the Hilltop back again for a great evening of cooking with Brashear Teens! This week, we made homemade spicy salsa (amended) and guacamole. By using fresh, wholesome ingredients we could create a healthy, customizable snack that could be made and enjoyed within minutes!

Since our teens come from several different schools and get dismissed at different times, we find it easiest to program on a drop-in basis, while promoting cooperative learning and soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and empathy, as they participate and catch-up with peers.

Individual activities also promote skill development and mentoring/relationship-building, and allow the teens to make each session their own, whether it be how spicy they wanted their salsa to be or how tangy they desired the guacamole.

Students followed step-by-step instructions to prepare and create the dips. Some students had never diced a tomato or eaten an avocado before! Trying new things is great!

Although some products didn't work out quite as the students expected, everyone had fun and enjoyed each others' company while learning valuable skills that will help them in school, the workplace, and beyond!

Join us next Wednesday, January 27 from 4-5 pm to make glow jars as we continue exploring art & expression through DIY crafts. See you there!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Helping Hand

At ALEC we try to put a focus on community and how we play a role in our own communities. This week we had a talk with our kids about how you can help out. They came up with really great suggestions like looking out for your neighbors and helping to keep the streets litter free. The community doesn't stop at your town. It extends to every circle you are a part of including family, school and our center as well. To get a hands on idea of how we can approach these goals in each of our lives, we wrote down the suggestions from the kids and each group of two picked out a helpful deed to act out in a puppet show. We brought out some socks and yarn and the kids got to work.

It was really great to see the kids figuring out how to take initiative. The pictures below are from a show where the girls demonstrated a student helping out another student who is struggling to understand what is going on in class. By acting it out they really showed how they understood what they could do in these situations and that they really wanted to be able to help their fellow students.

We saw a lot of great performances and some crazy puppet people. The kids clearly had so much to say on the topic and tons of great ideas. Brashear kids love putting on a show!



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