This year’s STARS started with a bang! Here are some highlights to this year’s program:
- We have received a 1.2 million dollar grant from NSF to develop the STARS program and disseminate at three other sites in the next 3 years
- We will be adapting the Urban EcoLab Curriculum developed by Boston College!
- We also have an AMAZING local advisory panel and leadership team composed of very talented people
- We kick off STARS with an overnight inquiry weekend in Camp Corey
This year we started with a bang, beginning with the Inquiry Professional Workshop, the All Hands on Deck meeting, and our recruitment week!
Inquiry Professional Workshop – Aug. 19 and Aug. 22
What happens when you get some of the best science educators to talk eco curriculum? Why, a ginormous resource of ideas, lesson plans, investigatable questions and a lot of fun! For two days, we invited some of our area experts, teachers and pre-service teachers to Gleeson Library for some epic brainstorming on ideas to help kick off our STARS program. The result is one very nice, resource-packed document that our pre-service teachers can refer to for a framework and plans on how they can guide their STARS girls through their investigations. It was a wonderful preclude to the school year, and we now have many brainstormed ideas to help inspire and guide us throughout the fall semester!
All Hands on Deck – Aug. 23
Following our Inquiry Professional Workshop, we held our All Hands on Deck where our local Advisory Board, supporters and leadership team used their expertise to help scale up STARS for the 2011-2012 school year. April, our fearless leader, led us through:
- Development of the shared vision of STARS and the program’s key goals and priorities
- Overview of each STARS participant’s role and commitment in the program’s implementation
- Overview of the STARS 2011-12 calendar and timeline
- Break-out sessions utilizing each team member’s expertise to develop key aspects of the STARS program
- Closing remarks and suggestions
We had a fantastic kick-off and used everyone’s suggestions and discussions to help us with STARS!
Nuts and Bolts II – Aug. 25
Our pre-service teachers met with the leadership support staff as we went over the STARS calendar and gave them the overview of STARS. Each teacher was given their own EcoLab Curriculum binder, as well as their first assignment – planning for Recruitment Week! We ended the session by customizing our own purple t-shirts to wear when we visit East High during September 1st – September 15th.
Recruitment Week! – Sept 1st – Sept 15th
Our pre-service teachers went above and beyond as the planned amazing 10-minute presentations to get students at East High involved with our STARS program. With amazingly fun demos that involved everything from floating eggs, balls of cloudy carbon dioxide, and liquid nitrogen-frozen marshmallows, our teachers WOWed the crowd while telling them about what girls can do in STARS. Each group passed out registration forms that included student surveys and a field trip permission form for each girl interested in STARS. Our STARS on-site manager, Cassandra Elliott collected the registration packets for us at the school.
Vexations and Snags -
So far we have had some amazing luck with the rollout of our new program. There is tremendous support from our community, and our pre-service teachers are energetic, excitable, driven and a huge pleasure to work with. In the scheme of things, perhaps the biggest snag (although it isn’t quite a snag) is the timing of when things need to be done.
The largest amount of time in our new adventure has been the planning for All Hands on Deck and the registration packets. For All Hands on Deck, we needed to prepare documents in time for each supporter to provide their input. Additionally, the preparation of the buddypress (what you are reading) as a hub for our advisory board has taken a bit to set up since our expertise in it is more lacking. However, we are quickly picking up on how things are set up, and it will soon be up and running. We decided that it would be a cheaper alternative to the ning, however, the setup, artwork, and options for the theme are things we are still playing with as we speak.
Prior to recruitment week, we had to update all our registration materials in our packet – Talking points, intro letter to parents, info form and questionnaire, RSRB signature approval, safety sheet and field trip form. What has helped immensely in this process is the ability to co-create these documents on googledocs – inviting people and their expertise to come proofread, add their input and suggest ways of improving these documents before dissemination to our pre-service teachers. We originally printed out 150 copies of these registration packets and gave them to our pre-service teachers to hand out at the end of their presentations. Mid-way through recruitment week, we copied an additional 150 packets to ensure that we did not run out of these important forms!
Additionally, for next year we will work on a STARS banner as well as ordering bracelets (probably during July) that say Science STARS that we can give out to the East High students to further promote the club.
Lastly, we invested a lot of time in creating a Hitchhiker’s Guide to STARS – a resource binder for our pre-service teachers. This binder exists in hard-copy (each teacher is equipped with a lime-colored binder) and also on Googledocs for the teachers to reference. As we continue to refine our process, we also update the googledocs so that they are being constantly improved!
April, Joe, Rachel, Janelle and Yen brainstormed ideas for creating a fun site survey for day 1 of STARS. We were looking for something exciting that would hook the girls into STARS, and thanks to their collective minds, have created a scavenger hunt all over the East High campus! Our ideas were placed on a googledoc and opened to the pre-service teachers to review and refine. Field kits and details of the scavenger hunt will be discussed in Monday night’s meeting of EDU 434.