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Summer Extravaganza

To Contact This Program

Family Technology Resource Center's Summer Extravaganza

Mindy DiSalvo

2652 Lawrenceville Highway
Decatur, GA 30033



Activity Description

Summer Extravaganza is a summer program for rising fifth through eigth-grade students that focuses on real life application of math‚ science‚ and technology. The program was designed to give students a chance to see how academic skills matter in the real world. Students are selected to participate based upon their interest‚ not on skills. We are looking for children who are average or struggling in math and science during the regular school day. Students‚ teachers‚ college professors‚ college students‚ and scientists work together on a college campus for three weeks during the summer on a particular topic. The topics have included the exploration of Mars where students made their own entomopters (a bug-like device designed and developed by NASA that is being used to explore the surface of Mars)‚pollution solutions (students work with scientists‚ environmentalists‚ HazMat teams‚ and community land developers to understand the long-term effects of hazardous materials and how they contribute to brownfields)‚ Georgia's earth (students work with architects and seismologists to understand the internal movement of the earth as they construct their own buildings‚ bridges‚ wall‚ etc.‚ and test their sustainability under various quake activity)‚ and robotics (students design robots and robotic devices with scientists who design them for manufacturing‚ space exploration‚ medicine‚ and farming).

Number of Students Involved in This Activity: 400

Range of Student Ages: Ten to fifteen years old

Duration of Activity: The activity takes place over three weeks on campus and throughout the school year where students‚ teachers‚ college students‚ scientists‚ and professors work together at the university‚ the school‚ or online.

Relevant Contextual or Demographic Information: Students selected for this program are not gifted students. They are students who are just average or struggling with math. They are the students who are typically left out of an opportunity like this. The students are selected by teachers based upon their eagerness to learn‚ their motivation to try‚ and their creativity. Teachers pay very close attention to multiple intelligences as they select students for this program. Most of the children who have participated are minority girls. It is very important to the teachers and the university personnel to send the message that girls can go into fields that have an emphasis on science and math! Of equal importance is the mentoring that takes place as they learn that they CAN go to college!

Academic ContentWhat is the academic content of this activity? Math Science
The academic content areas focused on the most are math and science. Technology is just a tool‚ and the students see that the professors‚ scientists‚ and college students use technology as a tool to do their jobs. The students see that common math skills like multiplication‚ fractions‚ and geometry take on real meaning. Just watch a student who is trying to design a structure that will withstand an earthquake that registers 3.9 but will not withstand on at 4.2 go to work using geometry and multiplication! Or work with another team of students who are designing a space capsule that will survive the re-entry impact‚ and watch as they learn that the weight of insulation material directly impacts the ability of the space craft's launch! Math and science are integral here. Students who participate in the Summer Extravaganza all have a university-based science/math mentor who works with them on assignments and projects throughout the school year. The university mentor becomes a virtual teacher/support to the teacher and other students.

Strong RelationshipsHow does this activity create strong relationships?
Students get to work with classroom teachers in a very different setting. The summer scheduling of this program allows teachers and students to learn together as they work with the college students‚ professors‚ and scientists. Students learn about real world applications of science‚ math‚ and technology‚ while teachers learn about creative and effective ways to teach the subjects. Teachers meet new mentors themselves‚ too. Students and teachers return to school in the fall with new learning partners at the university who are available to them on campus‚ at the local school site‚ and online. School-age students see themselves as a component of learning. Teachers are learning about teaching math and science‚ scientists and professors are learning about how their work can impact classrooms and their future‚ and college students learn the compelling fact that we can all learn from someone younger or older and from someone who has more or less formal education! The school-age students who have participated in this program now believe that they can go to college‚ understand that what was once a boring assignment in a math book does have application to a real experiment or opportunity‚ and that they can be successful and accomplished learners.

Decision MakingWhat opportunities are there for authentic decision making?
Every student and student team has to make daily decisions about their work. As they construct a mental model‚ formulate an equation‚ or design a structure‚ they decide. They use what they know‚ use what they learn from experimentation‚ and use the resources (scientists‚ professors‚ college students‚ teachers‚ and peers) to make decisions. When they make a decision that is not right‚ these students have realized this is very valuable information! In school‚ wrong decisions mean something else. In the Summer Extravaganza program‚ wrong decisions mean being a step closer to a right decision.

Student LeadershipWhat student leadership opportunities are there?
College students mentor the middle school students in Summer Extravaganza. In addition‚ middle school students who have been selected to participate year after year have now become mentors for new students. They have a chance to go back to school as an accomplished science and math student because they have experienced success in a different environment that values different learning styles!


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