Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, The Learning Center Charter School will be participating in the Amazon Future Engineer Program. This program provides resources and support to teachers and students in the field of computer science.
Our middle school students will be introduced to the basics of computer science including Scratch coding language. In the first year of the three year program, students will be exposed to a variety of technological resources.
Using the curriculum provided through the partnership and our existing resources, students will learn the basics of computer science, practice using Scratch, explore robotics with Ozobots, and develop their understanding of technological concepts including vocabulary.
The program will continue to expand in second year with exploring Artificial Intelligence using Scratch and App Inventor and in year three with computer science by means of using Creative Media and Python.
This partnership will help students develop skills and include experiences like virtual visits with an Amazon engineer, field trips to an Amazon facility, and ongoing opportunities for real-world experiences.
This awesome partnership is going to help our students be prepared to engage in higher-level computer science courses at the high school and college levels.
Recently the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra held a special musical show via Zoom, and out of all of the participants, TLC made up over half! TLC represented Western North Carolina so strongly. We are so proud of these kids and their love of music!
Each year, our fifth grade students spend the year doing field work with Muddy Sneakers. The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.
In early February, students had a fun outdoor science excursion. Students trekked in the woods (The Outdoor Learning Center) to observe a flock of robins searching for food, then searched under the leaves to find a few myriapods (centipedes and millipedes), spiders, and other fun creepy crawlies.
Next, students learned about weather measurement tools, cloud types, evaporation, air density/pressure zones, and how all these factors play together to create the weather effects we are all already familiar with. Teacher, Mr. Fenris, was the “Sun, the Great Evaporator” evaporating our 5th grade water molecules in a Red-light, Greenlight style game.
Finally, they built and decimated a model city with EXTREME weather (handfuls of leaves).
First grade students spent time outdoors learning about ecosystems as part of their science studies. The Outdoor Learning Center on our campus is a living, breathing, science laboratory and our first grade students love being in it!
In addition to making fancy hats to celebrate the 100th day of school, Kindergarten students also got creative and displayed collections of 100 items. Each student shared their collection with the class. This fun, hands-on activity served an educational purpose as well. Purposely finding 100 of the same item gave students a concrete sense of how much 100 really is in physical form. Plus, it was an excellent chance to practice their counting skills!
All students have been in remote learning school for the month of January. However, teachers and students did not let the fact that they were not meeting in person stop them from exciting, hands-on E-STEAM activities and PBL activities.
A targeted E-STEAM education approach ensures students engage in science, technology, engineering and math regularly. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, complex question, problem, or challenge.
Our teachers know from experience that E-STEAM and PBL projects harness student curiosity and allow a deeper exploration and understanding of studies.
In the photo example above, this meant that a student was conducting science experiments at home in his kitchen!
In the two years that Ryan Bender has been Head of School at The Learning Center Charter School, he has been committed to innovative education and weaving it into all that he does at the school.
Under Bender’s leadership, the school became a certified Open Way Learning (OWL) Academy in September 2020. OWL is a nonprofit organization with the singular mission to help schools develop, sustain, and grow cultures of innovation that better prepares students for our modern world and workforce. According to openwaylearning.org, OWL is a framework that encourages educators to create, modify, and share best practices to help education keep pace with a rapidly changing economy, society, and environment.
Bender was introduced to the HundrED movement through the OWL Academy connection. HundrED is a global education nonprofit organization which seeks and shares inspiring innovation in primary and secondary education.
“I was accepted as a HundrED ambassador and this distinction connects our school to resources and innovative education happening across the globe,” said Bender. “This benefits our school by linking resources for Professional Development for teachers as well as more educational resources for our students.”
“The voluntary HundrED community comprises over 600+ teachers, school principals, education consultants, professors, parents, and students from over 90 countries,” said Bender. “This network of educators helps identify what works in schools and collaborate to drive change on the local level.”
Bender added that the HundrED program is in line with the school’s OWL philosophy of free and open-source access. “Engaging in shared vision, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas ensures that our school will continue to create customized solutions for our students and community,” said Bender.
Second grade students at The Learning Center Charter School learned about weather by immersing themselves in a hands-on E-STEAM activity designing and making anemometers.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and agriculture, and math and is a guiding educational philosophy at the charter school. An anemometer is an instrument for measuring the speed of the wind.
Second graders at the school studied weather patterns, climate, and seasons as well as weather instruments used to measure properties of weather.
“Weather is an important science standard for second graders in North Carolina,” said Emily Willey, elementary science teacher at the school. “Designing and building our own tools for measuring wind speed engaged students deeply in the weather study and had students excited to learn more.”
Willey added that students also made windsocks to measure the direction of the wind and used thermometers to accurately measure temperature. Students also learned about barometers, Doppler radar satellites, and weather balloons as important tools to predict weather patterns.