Students in sixth through eighth grades at The Learning Center Charter School have a wide variety of electives to choose from each week. This semester one such elective is called “Tech Ed” and involves all things technology, engineering, and making.
Under the supervision of Franklin Shook, Instructional Technology Director for the school, students in this elective have been building robotic cars. They first learned about internal computer hardware components. Then the students spent time dismantling old computer technology to see the similarities in basic components including power supply, control boards and switches. They have been spending most of their weekly meeting time assembling robotic cars that they will eventually program to perform tasks like driving, object avoidance, responding to a TV remote and line tracing.
Shook plans to teach the group the basic function of everyday items via this hands-on STEM approach through building video games from old computers, 3D printing and additional robotics work. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Shook said, “I’m excited to be able to share technology skills with my students. It is fun to be able to watch their excitement as they learn something new.”
Check out the awesome sampling of electives offered to fifth through eighth grade students this semester!
ARTrageous: Drama students will be putting on The Learning Center’s 3rd Annual ARTrageous event this semester. This year we will be presenting drama and art focusing on the 50th anniversary of the NC Arts Program. The Drama will be centered on culture from North Carolina and writers from the state. The students will take our annual field trip to Young Harris College’s Children’s Theatre Production, play LOTS of games, laugh a great amount, and learn the basics of drama. This is not a prerequisite for the Spring Musical, anyone interested is welcome! Instructors: Ryan Bender, Judy Coleman
Aquaponics: The original system, in the pit, is up and running. The fish tank has about 350 fish of varying sizes; anywhere from 1” to 4” in length. If you’ve walked by the system lately, you will have seen the system is operating as it should and many plants are growing quite well.
At the end of last year we were ready to expand and move into a new area near the black shed. A number of interesting developments have occurred over the summer, and we now have the opportunity to expand even more. Therefore we will focus a majority of our efforts on designing and building a new system. In addition, we will continue to monitor and maintain the existing system. Instructor: Bill Coleman
Campus Creativity: This elective will have students working outdoors around campus to add creativity in different places. Projects include creating some simple outdoor science centers, helping in gardens, labeling plants/trees along the trails, and more. (Limit: 10 students) Instructor: Kathleen Shook
Furniture Flip: In the furniture flip elective, we will be taking old donated furniture pieces and creating new usable pieces to sell. As we create these new pieces, we will learn proper safety and use of power tools. Students in this elective will be required to have safety glasses as well as old clothes for painting. Since we will be using power tools, this group must be well behaved and self motivated. (Limit: 8 students) Instructor: Shelley Dockery
Muggle Quidditch: Quidditch is back this fall! Have you ever wanted to join the world of Harry Potter? Would you like to play 5 sports and one time? If so, then this elective is for you. The elective will involve rigorous physical activity while on a broom. Students in this elective must be able to follow directions and safety protocol. We will take enough kids to have 2 teams that will eventually compete against each other. Muggles are you ready for the fierce battle ahead? (Limit: 20 students) Cost: $1 Instructors: Jessie Adams and Cheryl Catuto
Tech Ed: The Tech Ed course will be covering a diverse range of tech-based and engineering-based activities including the following: Making/Building, Engineering Basics, Repurposing old tech, 3D Printing, Coding, Sensors, Robotics, and whatever other crazy things we can come up with. Class usually involves research skills and discovery-based learning. It has the potential of involving local businesses and other cool stuff too. (Limit: 10 students) Cost $10 Instructor: Franklin Shook
Performance Choral Ensemble: Join Ms. G and Ms. Monica for a fun and energetic Performance Choral Ensemble. You will receive voice training in your choral part, learn
simple choreography, and learn to use rhythmic instruments. You will learn a variety of songs from popular music to traditional show tunes. You will have input in choosing songs. You will perform at school and have community performance opportunities.Instructor: Nancy Gardner & Monica Matthews
Personal Conditioning: We will focus on strength and condition training, setting personal fitness goals, enhancing specific skills and techniques and feeling confident in your physical abilities. Students can customize their own physical fitness plan to achieve their individualized goals. The overall idea is to maximize your overall potential. (Limit: 10 students) Instructor: Sean Bain
Beginning Quilting: In this elective you will learn how to use a sewing machine, the required tools needed to create a quilt, learn a brief history and the art of quilting. You will also be able to piece a creation of your choice. Students are also able to bring their own sewing machine to this elective. (Limit: 4 students) Cost: $5 plus Materials for your individual project;, shopping list will be given when project is determined. Instructor: Cheryl Kirby
Murphy – The Learning Center Charter School, a tuition-free public charter school, continues to break ground with high-quality offerings in 21st century education. On-going facility improvements are designed for rich academic opportunities on this “future-ready” campus.
The Learning Center Charter School offers an E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts/Agriculture, and Math) learning environment. Students are exposed across the curriculum to 3-D Printers, robotics and coding. The school’s education philosophy includes the belief that all young learners have the right to experience a broad, rich, and rigorous range of academics during the formative K-8 years. Additionally, the school offers an award-winning nutrition program, daily P.E., unique electives and extra-curricular opportunities. The school’s emphasis on healthy living, community involvement and high academic standards is designed to produce future-ready citizens. This tuition-free public charter school (K-8th) has NO district restrictions and accepts students across all counties.
The Learning Center’s Montessori Blend Kindergarten program has proven to be a strong approach to instruction for even the youngest learners. “We’ve had consistent success with the feeder Montessori Program that is located on our school campus,” said school director, Mary Jo Dyre.
The school’s programs include Compacted Math classes for accelerated math students, daily PE for all grades, a highly developed drama program, and frequent garden-based learning opportunities across campus and in the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. The upper grade’s CREW Program, in its third year of operation, promotes character development, goal setting and responsible behaviors.
More extras including National Junior Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind teams, ARTrageous and artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program and AIG After School Program provide students with the opportunities to become all they can be.
Designated as a “USDA Healthier U.S. School” (Silver Level), The Learning Center Charter School places a strong emphasis on its nutrition and exercise programs. The school also has a free breakfast and lunch program available for ALL students.
The charter school serves approximately 200+ students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There is no tuition for grades K through 8th. The school also features a Montessori private preschool, serving ages 3-5 years. After school programs are available for all ages. Summer Enrichment Programs such as Innovation Tech Camp and intervention programs are also offered.
The Learning Center Charter School is celebrating making of all kinds at their 3rd annual School Maker Faire on Thursday, March 15 from 3:30 – 7:30. Imagine a science fair, craft show, tech conference, and county fair, all rolled into one and you can picture a School Maker Faire.
Makers – from Learning Center students to community members – will have booths featuring their own unique Maker project. There will be hands-on activities, demonstrations, and delicious homemade food.
One group of makers is students in the school’s Pinterest elective. These kids have been taking ideas they find on the popular social media platform and making them a reality during elective time each week. They have used everything from wooden pallets to discarded filing cabinets and dining room chairs to make new, useful and decorative items. They have built stenciled signs, small shelves and pallet Mason jar holders. Recently, they have begun taking their projects a step further by building furniture.
Shelley Dockery, a teacher overseeing this group of Makers at the school, says, “Kids are inherently curious and creative. Given the space and opportunity to build and create, they will and you’ll be amazed at the things they make.” Dockery added that much of what these students have made will be on display at the School Maker Faire in March. “Knowing that they will be displaying their makes has pushed these kids’ imaginations into overdrive. They are really looking forward to it!”
The Learning Center is an official host of the third annual School Maker Faire open to the Murphy area and is looking for Makers to join the festivities. The event will be held at the school on Thursday, March 15th, from 3:30 – 7:30 pm. Contact The Learning Center for more information and to enter YOUR Maker project at naturallygrownkids.org/school-maker-faire.
If you were a kid growing up in the 1980s, you might remember playing video games like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Pong and Space Invaders. Kids today at The Learning Center! Charter School will have the chance to venture back to the 80s with a new retro gaming elective.
This new elective will require students to do more than play retro video game classics — they will be building the actual gaming consoles. The elective is led by IT director, Franklin Shook who joins The Learning Center from Western Carolina University. Under Shook’s direction, students will rebuild old, donated computers to house a console for retro games.
Over the course of this elective, eight students will learn the basics of computer hardware, setup and troubleshooting, installing open source software, and repurposing otherwise obsolete technology.
Shook, who provides technology training for teachers, was asked to teach a computer building class for students. Said Shook about the elective, “I thought the gaming aspect would be an interesting addition for students to take home with them.” Shook is currently finishing his Masters degree in Library Science through East Carolina University.
Local aquaponics enthusiast, Bill Coleman shares his passion for the agricultural technique with middle school students at The Learning Center! Charter School. He talks excitedly about the potential aquaponics has to produce sustainable food anywhere – even on rooftops.
He explains that aquaponics is the marriage between aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). It is an integrated system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. The fish, kept in tanks, produce waste that supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water that is returned to the fish. The two systems benefit from each other. A third actor is the bacteria that converts the ammonia from the fish waste – first into nitrites, then into nitrates – that feed the plants. “Did you know,” Coleman excitedly asks, “that aquaponics requires only one-tenth the water of soil-based gardening?”
Coleman, a parent of former students at the school, got interested in aquaponics around four years ago – “quite by accident,” he adds – and experimented and perfected his own system. He decided to offer his volunteer efforts long-term to an “Aquaponics Elective” course at The Learning Center. He teaches a two-hour course every Friday for 6th 7th and 8th graders.
Coleman began by building the components, fashioning the tanks and perfecting the sump that is at the center of success of aquaponics design. Over time, the design went from 4 sq.ft. of growing area to about 120 sq. ft. “There were challenges that took months to iron out, including issues with water leakage,” said Coleman. “The whole process was two steps forward and one step back. The students, however, never faltered and we learned a great deal along the way.”
In this student run aquaponics system, one of many goals is to provide fresh, organic food that will be used in the school kitchen. “We have grown lettuce, broccoli, kale, peppers, arugula and more,” said Coleman. Students are learning the science of agriculture, botany, engineering skills and building techniques.
“We are excited about the community involvement in this important project,” said Coleman.” Materials were donated from local stores such as Lowe’s, TEAM Industries, Wilson’s, Hughes Electric, and from individuals just wanting to help the with the project.
If you would like to get involved in the aquaponics project at The Learning Center, or just discuss aquaponics and compare notes, contact Bill Coleman through the school at 828-835-7240.
The annual spring drama production showed May 5-7, 2017 to sold out crowds in the school’s Black Box Theater. The story of the the stage actors playing pirates being kidnapped by Fearsome Pirate Frank and her crew was a rousing comedy filled with talented actors perfectly cast for their parts. These students spent months learning lines, songs and dances and their hard work paid off in the incredible final production!
A special thanks is owed to the stage hands, make-up crew, sound and lighting team. Also, the hard work of Director, Ryan Bender, Musical Director, Judy Coleman, and Assistant Director, Cheryl Catuto, is both recognized and greatly appreciated.
Finally, this production would not be possible without the support of the Jackie Ward Foundation which seeks to enrich and enhance an otherwise general education by introducing students to the life-changing power of the Arts, while promoting business, entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering and math education.