Tag Archive for Green Street Teaching and Learning Center
by Olivia Drake •
This month, Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center received an $8,000 grant from the Petit Family Foundation to support the 2017 Green Street Girls in Science Summer Camp.
The Girls in Science Summer Camp is open to all children going into grades 4, 5 and 6. Children perform experiments and explore chemistry, electronics and physics with Wesleyan faculty. Campers will meet college student mentors, learn about science careers, create scientific posters, and share what they learn with family and friends at a Science Showcase.
The camp will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Aug. 7-11 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center and on Wesleyan’s campus.
by Olivia Drake •
Four Wesleyan students participated in a literacy program March 24 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. The students, who are members of Wesleyan’s QuestBridge/First Class organization, read social justice-themed books to the Green Street students and spoke about being a first-generation college student. QuestBridge/First Class provides support to low-income and/or first-generation students on campus.
The student volunteers included Yuhsuan Liu ’20, Aysha Khan ’19, Jada Jenkins ’20, and Mya Valentin ’19. The literacy program was organized by Belen Rodriguez ’19 and Emma Llano ’19.
“We thought this would be a great way to interact with younger students in Middletown who may also be low-income,” Rodriguez said. “In general, increasing childhood literacy is an important goal to have and we hope to hold more events like this in the future.”
The students read and discussed
by Frederic Wills '19 •
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, is the author of Super Cool Scientists, a new coloring book celebrating women in science. It features stories and illustrations of 22 women in science and technology careers. Highlighting a wide range of diversity in scientific field, background, race, and more, it aims to show all young people that science can be for them.
The idea for Super Cool Scientists came to MacSorley a little over a year ago, and launched with a successful Kickstarter campaign.
“I had been looking for a side project that brought more direct science communication to my life,” she explained. “My background is in science and science outreach and I was missing that a bit. I was also learning to deal with my own anxiety issues so had started coloring to relieve stress. When I was doing some research on the things I’d want to color, I realized there was no book out there quite like this that celebrated women currently doing science in such an approachable way.”
Each scientist featured in the book has a full-page biography about the work they do, as well as a full-page illustration (by local artist Yvonne Page) to color. The coloring activity is designed to “let the stories of the scientists be told in a way that the reader/ artist can place themselves in the story,” explained MacSorley. And while the text was targeted to a middle school audience, since publication she has heard that younger children also get a lot out of the book.
“And, surprisingly to me, science college students have been really into the book too,” she added. “I hope that young people can read (and color!) the book and see that science is a field for everyone and that—regardless of what you look like or where you’re from—you can be a scientist. I also want people to understand that there are many types of science jobs. Not all of them require a white lab coat.”
Among the scientists featured is LaNell Williams ’15. Her bio describes how she grew up wanting to be a journalist, but transitioned to studying physics while at Wesleyan, and highlights her current graduate research projects. Williams is now at the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program. The accompanying illustration shows her in the laser lab on campus.
The response to the book so far has been very positive, said MacSorley, including healthy sales on Amazon and bulk orders with schools. The social media community (Facebook and Twitter) is growing and sharing their colored pages.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is currently accepting applicants for its Discovery AfterSchool Program. Spring semester classes will be held Jan. 30 through May 12.
The Discovery AfterSchool Program offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences, and math for children in Grades 1- 5. The program encourages children to be curious and creative while they build self-esteem and problem-solving skills. For middle school students in Grades 6-8, GSTLC offers the Wesleyan Bound college experience class on Friday afternoons.
“Classes range from visual arts to dance, even to kung fu this semester,” said Sara MacSorley, director of GSTLC. “We offer many choices every day of the week.”
by Olivia Drake •
Christina Othon, assistant professor of physics, assistant professor of integrative sciences, met with students enrolled in the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center‘s Discovery AfterSchool Program on Dec. 1. Othon and Wesleyan students Danielle Levinson ’19, Alexis Braunrot ’18 and and graduate student Stefan Kramel taught the AfterSchool attendees about physics through hands-on activities.
GSTLC s a community-based studio that develops, applies, and disseminates best practices in experiential teaching and learning which enhance Wesleyan and the greater community. The Discovery AfterSchool Programs offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences and math for children in Grades 1- 5.
The objective for the day was to investigate the properties of matter, to review the states of matter, and to discuss some of the ways we can change the properties of matter. Othon’s expertise is in soft matter, and therefore the group focused on fluids, gels and plastic deformation. After reviewing how to define the properties of a liquid, students were asked about how they would characterize some unusual materials like peanut butter or Jell-O.
“Of course these are materials which hold their shape, similar to a solid, but deform under stress or strain like a fluid. We therefore determined that the categories of liquid, gas and solid are not rigid categories, but that some materials have properties of both,” Othon said. “We then conducted some experiments on viscosity where students made predictions about which fluids would flow most quickly down an incline plane. The fluids were water, oil, chocolate sauce, honey and ketchup. The students observed that the ketchup behaved differently than all of the other fluids, and that the clumping of the ketchup dramatically impacted how fast it flowed.”
After investigating viscosity, the group discussed how to change the properties of materials. The students recognized that through temperature they could change water to a solid.
To demonstrate the change in structural properties, Othon and the students decided to make bouncy balls through chemical crosslinking. The students took two fluid solutions (glue and starch, and a salt solution in water), and mixed them to make their own bouncy balls.
“This is a messy project, but is highly engaging and the students greatly enjoyed it,” Othon said. “We always have a lot of fun working with the children at Green Street. We hope that this experience helps makes studying science exciting, and that they realize they can make observations of everyday objects and phenomena in their home.”
(Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)
by Olivia Drake •
Sara MacSorley, director of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, was invited to be a guest on iCRV radio’s “Feel Good Friday” segment in mid November. “Feel Good Friday” celebrates “good people doing good work” in the Connecticut River Valley. MacSorley was joined by the Director of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Cynthia Clegg, and local artist Jill Bulter.
Bulter got connected to the Community Foundation through their Fund for Girls and ended up creating her own fund, the York Butler Fund, to support programs for kids that used the arts. Two years ago, Green Street TLC received the first ever York Butler Fund grant to support scholarships for the kids taking arts classes in the Discovery AfterSchool program.
The radio program focused on the value of the arts, the importance of community engagement, and the power of making connections between organizations, programs and people. Connections brought MacSorley, Clegg and Bulter together and in the end, it helped support children in Middletown.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
This month, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is once again hosting its K-8 Math Institute for 29 school teachers from Vernon and Hamden, Conn. The 80-hour program aims to increase teachers’ mastery of math concepts as well as their confidence with math.
Wesleyan Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen is teaching the institute along with Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut. This is the fifth time the pair has taught the course together. The institute includes the content-intensive, 80-hour Intel Math course over the summer as a foundation for teachers, several follow-up workshops during the school year for advancing teaching practices and arts integration strategies, and two professional learning community sessions a year in the form of Math Potlucks.
Green Street Director Sara MacSorley said this year’s course is going very well.
“As a group, the participating teachers are strong in math and really engaged in the material,” she said. On this particular day, a Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring into the 90s, “there are lively discussions about fractions at each table.”
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s Green Street Teaching and Learning Center hosted the 2016 Girls in Science Summer Camp for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade girls Aug. 1-5. Campers were exposed to a variety of careers in science and learned how to use scientific tools like lab notebooks, pipets, and microscopes.
Four female Wesleyan faculty—Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics; Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, associate professor of environmental studies; and Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry—led a series of hands-on experiments with the campers. Sara MacSorley, director of the GSTLC, coordinated the activities.
Mukerji taught the campers about DNA by extracting DNA from strawberries. Students also built a large DNA model and created a secret message using DNA code.
Etson taught the campers about light, color, energy, light refraction, lenses and prisms, and electronics. The girls built their own electric motors, studied solar power, and learned the difference between incandescent and LED light bulbs.
Taylor and graduate student Mackenzie Schlosser taught the campers about parts of a cell, germs, and good and bad bacteria, and had campers test various areas of the Green Street Teaching & Learning Center for bacteria.
Personick taught viscosity by racing different fluids, such as chocolate sauce, corn oil, ketchup, soap, and glue, to see which flows best. The campers also learned about the different phases of matter.
“The girls were very surprised to see that ketchup flows slower than glue, and we talked about non-Newtonian fluids to explain that observation,” Personick said.
Personick also had the campers make bouncy balls by cross-linking a polymer (glue) with Borax; tested the properties (magnetism, conductivity, density, flexibility) of different metals to learn about what properties metals have in common and which properties depend on the shape/size of the piece of metal; and created silver nanoparticles in a rainbow of colors and then used silver and gold nanoparticles to make stained glass. On Aug. 5, the campers used what they learned about viscosity to make bubbles.
Students also made and ate liquid nitrogen ice cream to study phase changes in cooking, and talked about how cooking is science in the kitchen.
The Girls in Science Camp is supported by the Petit Family Foundation.
Photos of the Girls in Science Camp are below:
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Registration is now open for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s fall Discovery AfterSchool Program, a high-quality program for children in grades 1–5 offering a wide range of arts, culture and science classes. Faculty and staff receive a 50 percent discount on tuition.
The fall program runs from Sept. 12 through Dec. 9, and includes challenging and fun classes in music, art, dance, theater, science, and more, as well as optional homework help. Classes are taught by Wesleyan students and professional teaching artists. Children may be enrolled in classes Monday through Friday, or only one day of the week.