Thursday, October 12, 2017

Programming Close-Up: Y-Creator Space

Programming Close-Ups

Because after-school is just around the corner, we want to give you better insight into how our after-school program operates and what we will be doing together this year. The post "What's New for After-School" briefly explains the basic structure for our programming; check it out for more info! To sum up that post, our students get to choose between several activities offered throughout the week. The goal of this Close-Up series is to thoroughly introduce you to each activity and the partner leading it. Hopefully after reading these, you will have a better idea what awesome things our Brashear Kids get to do!

Y-Creator Space

Activity Leader: Miss Alex

Coming back from last year's school year program and summer Tech Camp, Y-Creator Space will be joining us on Tuesdays for hands-on work with technology and building. Based out of the Homewood YMCA, Y-Creator Space operates both as its own after-school program and as enrichment in other after-school programs. Most of their programming across all fronts involves hands-on activities that implement STEM subjects and the Maker model.

STEM and the Maker Model

Both the STEM and Maker Models are important to the Y-Creator Space curriculum. STEM stands for the academic subjects Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Maker Model is a project-based learning method that focuses on hands-on problem solving. When asked about the use of the models in their after-school program, Y-Creator Space  Alex Rice claims that their approach is "the intersection of STEM and Maker." Given the nature of the Maker Model and lack of safe and portable materials, however, it is hard for Y-Creator Space to include hands-on activities that focus on Science and Math. Therefore, Y-Creator Space focuses mainly on the Technology and Engineering portions of STEM while providing authentic problems for students to solve and build. 
At Tech Camp, students design and construct
their very own robots and structures
All hands-on, all fun!

This Year's Theme

Themes in Y-Creator Space programming include robotics, circuitry, and cardboard/plastic construction among other Technology and Engineering subjects. This year, students who elect to participate in Y-Creator Space on Tuesdays will work on robotics projects. During our Showcase Weeks (See "What's New at After-School), students learned the basic terms for the working parts of a robot (such as servo, LED lights, motor, motherboard, etc.). Additionally, Y-Creator Space brought in some awesome re-purposed robots to work on. Students hooked stuffed animals and cardboard cutouts re-fitted with robotic parts into the laptops to turn on lights, move arms, and make sounds. We're looking forward to what we can do by the end of the year! 

Maybe by the end of the year
they'll make their own!
Our students check out all
the cool robots during Showcase Week

The Level Approach

Working in teams!
When talking to Alex Rice about the structure of the program, she explained that they are starting to implement an approach that focuses on Levels. Each Level consists of a certain or knowledge or skill in robotics that students will learn or develop through Maker activities throughout the year. Levels, in increasing levels of difficulty, include naming the parts of a robot and circuit board, hooking things up onto a circuit board, making a robot with all the parts, incorporating sensors, and automating processes and movements. As the students try new things with different robots and setups, they will learn more and more about the discipline. At the end of the year, we hope that the students will have basic knowledge about robotics that they can transfer to their future technology classes and interests in Technology and Engineering.

We are so happy to have Y-Creator Space join us again this school year. As you can see, the activities they provide for kids are very unique yet also growing in popularity. We cannot wait to see what our kids are able to learn and achieve with Y-Creator Space this year!

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