Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Survival: Shelter, Skills, & Stew

In this club, the children were encouraged to think about what life would be like in the desert environment without modern tools, food services, and shelters.

The group began by designing tools that could aide them in hunting and gathering. After carefully considering the options based on food available and environmental conditions, the children then made their designs came to life.

They collected materials found in the environment and assembled them together to form larger tools. This was day one of the club, on day two the children were asked to consider what they might need in order to build a shelter that would protect them from the harsh New Mexico Sun and flash flooding common to the area. On day three the children continued working on their shelters but something had begun to change in the way the children thought of their shelters. What began as independent shelters quickly changed into community shelters as the children became aware of what the other survivalists had to offer with their individual environments.

Day four of the club was a day of food preparation for the big survivalist feast, but there was a catch! The only tools available to the children in order to chop the vegetables for their vegetable stew were large stones that had been collected outside.

Upon surveying several children, it was found that this was their favorite day of the club. Some said it was the feeling of smashing the stone onto the tough produce while others enjoyed the strong food smells, whatever the case, these children worked hard to put themselves in the mindsets of early New Mexican settlers and enjoyed the reward of building everything for themselves and for their community of survivors. 

By Lisa Audette 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Advocacy & Recycling

Don't know what to do with those old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs that you replaced with more efficient CFLs and LEDs.

Lights On Afterschool is a nationwide event celebrating afterschool programs and their important role in the lives of children, families and communities. 

To draw the attention of parents and educators and advocate for the importance of afterschool programs, this year for Lights On Afterschool one of our schools decided to have a lightbulb gallery! The kids spent the afternoon painting lightbulbs with glass paint and displaying them for families to see. The kids loved that they looked like hot air balloons to represent New Mexico!

Things you'll need:

1.Any glass light bulb
2.Glass paint and markers ( from craft store)
3.Air dry clay 

Don't bake the lightbulb a as the paint instructed as it makes glass explode! Place light bulb in clay before they star paining to hold as a base and start painting. Let dry at least 4 hours!

By Sarafina Nagle

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Experiment: Edible Energy Explosion

Our own Fruit Ninja in Training (Ryan age 6) had a question. Can the force and pressure of a lot of rubber bands wrapped around of the middle of a watermelon really make the watermelon explode?  If so, how many rubber bands would it take to make a watermelon explode?  The guesses ranged from 50-1,000 and we recorded all of the opinions of the children on a piece of paper.

We started our experiment by placing rubber bands around the middle of a watermelon. The kids helped to count the rubber bands as the staff stretched them around the watermelon. We started out placing five rubber bands at a time and were able to practice counting by 5s (to sneak in a little math). After 200 rubber bands were on, we began placing the rubber bands by the 10s. After we hit 500 rubber bands, we had to go back inside and look for more!

As the experiment continued, the watermelon began to ooze bubbles and juice out of where the stem had originally connected the watermelon to the plant. 

Then the watermelon began to crack slowly, and as we placed the 558th rubber band on the watermelon, it popped! Watermelon showered everywhere like rain and the pieces ranged from baseball sized pieces to mist.

Rubber bands are great examples of potential vs. kinetic energy. When they are stretched, they are full of lots of potential energy (stored energy). When they snap back, this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy (energy in motion), and... boom! Watermelon shower!

The kids really enjoyed this experiment and thanked Ryan for sharing it with the community. Next time we want to try different sized watermelons and see how the watermelon size affects the number of rubber bands needed.

By Erik Wolf

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jim Dine Hearts

Jim Dine (1935), is an American Pop Artist and Abstract Espressionist who is known for his colorful and iconic painting of robes and hearts. He is considered an important figure in Neo-Dada and a forerunner of Neo-Expressionism. He is the undisputed King of Hearts. He paints, prints, draws, and sculpts them. When asked how many hearts he has made, he responded, “Millions… I have not idea but it’s mine and I use it as a template for all my emotions. It’s a landscape for everything.”

In this art class, we showed the students an example of a Jim Dine heart painting.
We asked them, “What colors were in used in the art.  How does it make you feel?”  Then we told them that we were going to do our own version of the heart picture.

Materials needed:
·      Paper
·      Crayons
·      Pencil
·      Watercolors
·      Water
·      Brushes

We first showed the students how to draw a big heart on their page with pencil.  Then we had them trace over the pencil with crayon.  Once their heart was drawn, the students then used watercolors to fill in the heart.  We had them think about the colors inside the heart, and outside and asked how they wanted them to contrast.  

Here are their heart-filled results.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Beyond Books and Beverages

We think the experiences of older kids should be special. They have unique needs and wants and deserve activities designed specifically for their age group. Their voices need to help drive the design of their own programming. Older kids should have experiences that are different than those of the younger kids.

In our Older Kids Club, they are involved a mix of service learning projects like fundraising for our local animal shelter and helping the younger kids with homework that teach a sense of community and activities that are just plain fun like making our enjoying special snacks and pet rock creations while hanging out in the Older Kids only area of our community.

This month, our Older Kids Club surveyed the younger kids in the program about books they would like to read.  We took a field trip to the local Barnes and Noble, first stopping at the bookstore cafĂ© for some grown up Starbucks beverages. Then we spent some time picking out books from the younger kids’ wish list. “I really liked this book we picked out, it was called I SPY, ” said Teagan.   They were given a budget and had to experience the democratic process in action by taking a few votes to decide on which books to purchase. “I suggested Mal’s Spell Book and it has some spells in it.  I think it is good for older kids and some younger kids that can read really well,” said Kahlo.

Later this month we will continue a Sombra Older Kids Club tradition by constructing a Haunted House.  Families are invited to tour the attraction with their children during our Family Night, October 30th. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Apples, Acids, & Bases

Sometimes the best curriculum ideas come not from prior planning, but spontaneously following through on the expressed interests of kids. After making a HUGE mess playing with the ink inside a broken pen, this curious group came to me to plead their case.  With straight faces and genuine sincerity they said, "But Carmen, we were EXPERIMENTING!  We like to experiment."  

So the next day we experimented with ACIDS and BASES.  
First we had to think like scientists.  We had to have a question.  We did a little research online and found an experiment we wanted to try.  We learned from our research that apples and other fruit can turn brown when cut open and enzymes inside of the fruit are exposed to oxygen and react with an iron or copper cofactor in the fruit. The apple oxidizes... so it is a little bit like an edible rust on the fruit.

Our research question: What will keep apples from turning brown, an acid or a base?

Our hypothesis: We thought the apple treated with a base (baking soda specifically) would turn brown first.

  • 5 apple slices
  • 5 canning jars with lids
  • Vinegar (or dilute acetic acid)
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Baking soda dissolved in water
  • Solution of Milk of Magnesia and water
  1. We added a slice of apple to each jar.
  2. We poured enough of each liquid into the jar to completely coat the apple slices
  3. We put the jars on a white board and labeled each space.
  4. Then we made a guess about which one would keep the apples looking the freshest.  
  5. We made our hypothesis and wrote it down.  We watched our experiment for 2 days then unveiled our apples!  
Results: Our hypothesis was supported. The apple slices in the acids (lemon juice and vinegar) did not get brown as much as the apple slices in the bases (milk of magnesia and baking soda water) or our control (plain water).

by Carmen Prince-Morris
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