Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July is National Park and Recreation Month

This July, discover your super powers at your local parks and rec! When we work together to further health and wellness, conservation and social equity efforts, awesome things happen!
This year, the Park and Rec Brigade is here to help you discover your super powers at your local parks and recreation. Captain Community, the Green Guardian and the Fit Twins will guide you on your adventure during Park and Recreation Month. Click here for more information.
Get outside and explore nature, the benefits are as follows:
  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese7 get fit. 
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.8
  • Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.9
  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.10
  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.11
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.12
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.13
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.14
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.1

Click here for the one page fact sheet in regards to why getting out in nature is important.

Click here for the information on the outdoor contest in which one lucky winner each week will receive a $500 Amazon gift card. (Starting July 11, 2016)

Let's see what STEM learning activities the Summer Learning Program practitioners have been engaging the Region 3 students in.

Name of Out-of-School-Time Provider: Wheatland School District Expanded 
                                                                    Learning Programs

Name of District: Wheatland School District

Type of Program: Summer Learning Program (Summer Camp)

Grade Level of Activity: Fourth Grade

Number of Students Who Took Part in Activity: 44

Type of Activity: Fourth Grade Students took a trip to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm

Description of STEM Activity:

In their summer learning program the students of Wheatland are learning about the different community partners that exist in their area. Tara Arroz, Wheatland's expanded learning program  grant manager, recently reached out and was able to form a new partnership with Bishop's Farm. Bishop's Farm, is a new partner in Wheatland's STEM learning Ecosystem and below is what I observed during my site visit from 10:15 to 1:00 PM.

On the day that I visited Bishop's farm, 50 fourth graders from Wheatland's summer learning 
program were on site. The fourth graders took part in the following learning activities:

  • Provided with a tour of the grounds
  • Learning about the various crops and jobs that the local farm provides to the             community and surrounding areas
  • Learning about the three different soil types (Sand, Clay, and Silt) that exist on the site of the farm, the qualities of each soil type, and the types of produce that can grow and be supported by each soil type
  • Planted strawberries in individual containers that they took home to their families
  • Made salsa from produce grown onsite, followed a recipe
  • Had a lunch which also included local produce grown onsite

The activities that I witnessed were aligned with the 5 LIAS Principles, and were tied to the following Quality Standards (active and engaged learning, skill building, healthy choices and behaviors, diversity, equity, and access, and collaborative partnerships).

Summer Learning Program students learning about the qualities of sand.

Summer Learning Program students from Wheatland learning about the qualities of silt.
For more information on this activity or partnership please contact 
Tara Arroz at

Name of Out-of-School-Time Provider: Folsom Cordova Unified School District's 
                                                                    STARS Summer Learning Program

Name of District: Folsom Cordova Unified School District

Name of School Site: White Rock Elementary

Grade Level of Activity: Third through Sixth Grade

Number of Students Who Took Part in Activity: 44

Type of Activity: River Bend Outdoor Education Session

Description of STEM Activity:

The students were engaged in the following three activities:

a) Macro Invertebrates - What are they? What do they look like? What do they mean for a 
riparian habitat? What do they tell us about a water source?

b) A Nature hike around Mile marker 14 and 15 of the American River Parkway - What 
are the native and invasive plant species of this riparian habitat? How were these plant species 
used by native Americans? The importance of these plant species to this riparian habitat.

c) River Crossing Challenge- In this engineering design challenge activity students are asked to imagine that they are a part of an 1847 wagon party and that they need to get their raft across 
the river using only natural resources in the area. 

These activities are aligned with the 5 LIAS principles and the following Quality Standards 
(Active and Engaged Learning, Diversity, access and equity, collaborative partnerships, skill 
building, and Youth Voice and Leadership)

FCUSD Summer Learning Program students looking for Macro Invertebrates.

FCUSD finding and identifying planarian and river snails.

For more information on this activity please contact Mark Drewes at

STEM / Expanded Learning Program and Other Pertinent Education Articles

1) How To Raise Brilliant Children, According to Science 
    (Anya Kamenetz, NPR, July 5, 2016)

2) Study says reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy
    (Susan Frey, Ed Source, July 8, 2015)

3) Preparing Teachers for Next Generation Science Standards
    (Lauren Madden, Education Week, July  5, 2016)

4) More Playtime! How Kids Succeed with Recess Four Times a Day at School
    (Christopher Connelly, KQED, January 4, 2016)

5) 5 Benefits of Outdoor Education (Michael Becker, Edutopia, April 19, 2016)

6) At Google, women and minorities still lag
    (Jessica Guynn USA Today, June 30, 2016)

7) Making the Case: Investing in Informal STEM Education 
    (National After School Association, May 17, 2016)

8) Let'em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play in Kindergarten
    (Holly Korbey, July 23, 2014, KQED) 

9) California After School Network Releases State of Expanded 
    Learning 2015-2016 (CAN)

10) Impact on SES Changes on Expanded Learning Programs
      (Partnership for Children and Youth)

11) The Coming Together of School and Afterschool Practices
      (Sam Piha, Temescal and Associates, Blog, July 1, 2016)

12) What English Language Learners Wish Their Teachers Knew
      (Wendi Pillars, Education Week, June 22, 2016)

13) English Teachers' Hip Hop Curriculum Gets Students Writing
      (Elisha McNeil, Education Week, June 20, 2016)

14) The Economic Impact of Early Exposure to STEM Education
      (Committee for Economic Development, June 21, 2016)

STEM (and other interdisciplinary core content) Activities / Videos / Websites

1) Are young kids losing the brain-boosting benefits of playtime? 
    (PBS News Hour, Video, July 5, 2016)

2) Why Making Mistakes Is What Makes Us Human
    (KQED, Video, September 2, 2015)

3) How Stories Told of Brilliant Scientists Affect Kids' Interest In The Field
    (NPR, Podcast, June 7, 2016)

4) PBS Teacher Built Learning Activities (PBS Resources / Activities)

5) Homemade Hi-fidelity Speakers (Middle School / High School Activity)

6) DIY IPhone Speakers (Elementary)

7) 20 Books Featuring Diverse Characters to Inspire Connection and Empathy
   (Book list, KQED)

8) 5 Illustrated Books for Kids Who Dig Math (Book list, Read Brightly)

9) 14 Books That Connect Students WithValuable Scientists' Struggles
    (Book list, KQED)

10) Engineering Career Options (PBS Learning Media, Grades 6-12)

11) Soil Erosion Experiment (Activity, Grades 4-8)

12) What's Your Hypothesis? (PBS, Grades K-2 Lesson Plan)

13) A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice (Resources / Lesson Plans)

STEM / Educational Grants

1) The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources
   (Edutopia, Updated on July 3, 2016)

2) Target Field Trip Grants ($700)  (August 1 through September 30, 2016)

STEM / Misc. Professional Development / Contest / Events:

1) CASRC Online Free Professional Development (Free)

2) CalSac E-learning Opportunities (Free)

Thanks again for all that you do in the field. Please keep us posted about STEM events/activities in your area. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Monica Gonzalez-Williams (SCOE: Region 3: After School Regional Lead):

Phil Romig (SCOE: Science Curriculum Specialist):

Mark Drewes (SCOE: Project Specialist II: After School)

1 comment:

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