We’re excited to announce the launch of two new after-school pilot programs this fall at Quest to Learn. Funded in part by The Hive Digital Media Learning Fund at The New York Community Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the programs challenge and empower students to take on roles as scientists, engineers, designers, inventors, journalists, artists and activists and engage critically with the world they live in.
In the first new pilot Green Machine: Building Sustainable Futures, participants work at the intersection of green design and engineering to identify and develop sustainable solutions to critical environmental challenges. Originally named Short Circuit, Science and Society, Green Machine was inspired by the growing social action interests of many seventh-grade Quest to Learn students, as well as their love to design, invent and create.
Learning activities are play-tested and co-developed by students along with a group of educators from prominent New York City cultural institutions—such as the Museum of Natural History, Teachers College at Columbia University, the Mozilla Foundation and The After-School Corporation. One of the first design challenges addressed issues of water quality and access around the world as participants raced to purify water re-using common household materials like socks, plastic bottles and screens. “I really like that we take real ideas and put them to the test. It’s cool, and really fun, to solve problems like this,” reflected sixth grader Lorenzo after successfully devising a water filter that cleaned the mucky water with his team Trout Filter and Co.
Extra! Extra!, the second pilot, is a multi-media news channel for Quest to Learn that gives students the chance to experiment with reportage, messaging, story-telling, video production and editing, graphic design, blogging, sound production and marketing. Throughout the production process, students cooperate within teams to decide how they want to report on and represent their school. Sixth grader Marcelle observes, “we get along really well—we’re all very team-dependent, and independent too.” Working closely together to publish their work, the students frequently take on new roles while exploring different skill sets. “I like being the interviewer, because, well, we all tried each job, so then we get a feeling of what we like to do or what we don’t, and I found that I liked interviewing a lot. I like being in front of the camera. It’s fun,” remarks sixth grader Sasha.
The first edition of the Q2L Times should be out any day now, broadcast in HomeBase and also available on the school’s social network. One of the first Quest to Learn teachers to design and lead an after-school workshop, Sports for the Mind teacher, Michael DeMinico, is at the helm of Extra! Extra!. Teaching during the day and then continuing to mentor after school, Michael follows a model pioneered by Chicago’s Digital Youth Network that knits in-school and after-school together into a single seamless learning opportunity supportive of student passions and interests.
Stay tuned for more news from these two fledgling programs.