• Today is: Monday, May 21, 2018

Hands-on (mostly free) fun is at the heart of Remake Learning Days

Candy Williams
May17/ 2018

Families are going to need a game plan take advantage of as many activities as possible during the third-annual Remake Learning Days from May 17-25.

“I’m a parent of a kindergarten and a 4th-grade student, and I’m plotting out every day on the calendar to see as much as I can,” says Dorie Taylor, producer of the mega-event.

For nine days, the “world’s largest open house of hands-on learning” includes 35 school districts, museums, afterschool centers, tech startups and universities throughout southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Each will be rolling out the welcome mat to share their innovative and engaging ideas with kids. Remake Learning Days are filled with 270 free or low-cost events that focus on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – education.

“We’re doing it from many vantage points,” Taylor says. “A lot of new organizations want to showcase what they’re doing for kids and teachers with hands-on learning opportunities to explore new technology. That’s what I love about Remake Learning Days – education happens everywhere.”

The Remake Learning Days Kickoff breakfast on May 17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center takes place during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a pre-college science competition sponsored by the Society for Science & the Public. The kickoff includes a tour of the science and engineering fair that highlights the work of 1,800 international student finalists, who are conducting groundbreaking research in 22 STEM fields.

With a score of Remake Learning activities planned through eight Pennsylvania counties, plus West Virginia, nearby neighborhood locations shouldn’t be hard for families to find. To help navigate events, the website has offerings organized by themes – arts, maker, outdoor learning, science, for example – plus geographic locations. Or download and print the brochure for an overview of all the offerings.

Kids can break out of an escape room at Duquesne Elementary School, step into a Motivation Station adventure at New Castle Junior-Senior High School, or check out the Gnome House Designs at Fallingwater.

remake learning days
At Puppets and Media Making at WQED, kids will be build puppets and create a story.

In Oakland, WQED Education and Pittsburgh Puppet Works will introduce children to the world of puppetry, making and media at a workshop in the Fred Rogers Studio on May 19. After participating in a puppet show, kids will create their own puppets and props, storyboard a simple script and experiment using a green screen.

remake learning days
Kids examine a bug up-close at a Children’s Museum’s Tot Hike.

Tot Hikes are planned on May 25 at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh where kids can explore the world from their eye level. They will investigate bugs, make texture rubbings of found items, taste plants that grow in gardens and listen to a story.

remake learning days
It’s a family affair at Homewood Children’s Village.

Homewood Children’s Village and its partners will showcase their successful efforts to “Remake Learning” and celebrating the grand opening of its free community co-working space at The Shop on May 25. Kids will find plenty of maker-focused learning activities for all ages and grade levels.

remake learning days
Brainstorming at Regency Park Elementary School.

Regency Park Elementary School in Plum will host a STEAM Brainstorm on May 23. Families can explore a variety of STEAM-related activities ranging from flying a drone and coding to creating music, building with a K’nex system and creating slime.

remake learning days
Avonworth Elementary’s outdoor learning space, where plants and new ideas bloom.

Amy Besterman, a 5th-grade math teacher at Avonworth Elementary School, is excited about her school’s Outdoor Adventures on May 23, which will take place in the school’s outdoor learning space.

Besterman says Remake Learning is motivating teachers to change how they teach students.

“We need to prepare students to innovate, create and be able to solve problems throughout their entire lives and Remake Learning is providing us with the resources needed to do this in and out of the classroom,” she says.

remake learning days
Kids enjoy the Fab Lab at Greenock Elementary School.

Educators have options for participation in Remake Learning Days, too. At Greenock Elementary in Elizabeth Forward School District, for example, Mini Makers: Coding and Creating is planned for May 18. Educators will take a look inside the school’s Fab Lab and learn about projects that teach kids how to make compost that feeds the worms that helps their school garden grow, how to use hydroponics to grow lettuce in their Kids’ Kitchen, and how to make music with instruments they make themselves.

Taylor is especially proud of a new initiative this year at Remake Learning Days to recognize teachers and community champions who are advocates for innovative, hands-on learning opportunities. They will serve as ambassadors throughout the event and field questions from families to help them in selecting events they want to attend.

“We want to recognize the great work they are doing in leading our youth to the future with their passion for learning,” she says.

Besterman took part in last year’s Remake Learning Days and found it encouraging to watch parents learning and discovering with their children.

“Anytime a parent and a child can have an engaging experience together, it is worthwhile,” she says. “These are the opportunities we need to offer our community.”

Candy Williams

Candy Williams is a freelance writer and journalist whose articles have appeared in national and local publications. She lives in the South Hills.

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