WXXI Gets Ahead of Summer Learning

Posted by Anna McDonald on
Children dig into STEM learning a WXXI Exploration Station
Courtesy WXXI

In 2015, WXXI partnered with the Monroe County Library System & Rochester Public Library on a summer learning project that targeted local families with children ages 2-8, with special emphasis on reaching those families most at risk for the “summer slide.”  The project’s goals were multi-faceted, including:

  • Engage and support local families and their quest for developmentally appropriate learning resources during the summer months.
  • Provide free opportunities for families to experience fun, educational, and appropriate activities that reinforce content, concepts, and skills taught in their children’s classrooms.
  • Provide engaging learning experiences to help combat the “summer slide”.
  • Use summer learning time to help children continue to develop STEM and literacy skills.
  • Showcase valuable community partnerships and collaborations, such as with the Rochester City School District, Monroe County Library System, Rochester Public Library, and ABC Head Start.
  • Promote the PBS KIDS brand, as well as specific PBS KIDS programs and resources available for families.

The project included two major components:

1.     Kick-off to Summer Learning Event (June 2015) – WXXI produced an event at the library to kick-off all of the exciting summer learning events and experiences that the library and WXXI was offering throughout the summer months, open to all, but particularly targeted for lower income city families.  The station provided PBS KIDS summer learning resources (bookmarks, summer reading charts, posters); take-home activities from DINOSAUR TRAIN, WILD KRATTS, and CURIOUS GEORGE; summer learning book lists; and hands-on activities.

2.     Weekly “Exploration Stations” (July-Aug 2015) -- WXXI co-hosted a series of 7 STEM days at the Central Library Branch. The joint-events were called “Exploration Stations” and offered open-ended, hands-on STEM experiences for families/community groups/summer camps/summer programs to engage with when they came to the library. The “Exploration Station” series was part of the Central Library’s Summer Learning calendar and took place every Thursday throughout July and August.  The “Exploration Stations” were available for learners to participate in on these days from 11am-4pm with support provided by WXXI Education staff and children’s librarian staff, and each station explored STEM topics tied to DINOSAUR TRAIN, WILD KRATTS, AND CURIOUS GEORE curriculum.  The stations also included take-home activities, parent/family resources, supporting literacy resources (i.e. booklists), and modeling from WXXI and library staff. Topics included: buoyancy, magnetism, magnification, patterning, data collection, building, nature, graphing.

WXXI also provided other events and educational opportunities throughout the summer that tied into the STEM summer learning goals and continued to engage families in out-of-school settings, including Kart Kingdom and Back-to-School events, among others.

Early Planning Key to Success

WXXI's partnership with the library was successful on all counts, and especially in regards to achieving collective impact in the area of summer learning; working together, the organizations heightened the impact each organization would have been able to deliver on its own. And early planning made a difference. WXXI began planning for summer learning in February, building in lead time to secure funding, and flexibility to adapt deliverables according to the level of funding received. WXXI was successful in generating financial support for its summer learning project from the PBS KIDS Summer Learning Grant, as an American Graduate Hub Station, and from a local foundation. 

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