Urban Adventure Squad brings community-based, hands-on learning to families and schools in the D.C. area through full-day programs when schools are closed, and through partnerships with schools and community organizations.
2019-20 School Partnerships
During the 2019-20 school year, we partnered with three public charter schools--Creative Minds International Public Charter School (CMI), DC Bilingual Public Charter School (DCB), and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School-Brookland campus and East End campus (Stokes School).
Creative Minds Garden Education Program
In fall 2019, Urban Adventure Squad returned to Creative Minds International with 12 weeks of garden education programming. UAS educators developed and led curriculum-aligned environmental education programs during class periods by appointment, recess, and after school. Students in PK-8th grade took care of the pollinator garden and raised garden beds by removing old weeds, tilling existing soil, adding new soil, planting seeds, watering sprouts, and monitoring new growth. Students added fresh coats of paint to the garden boxes, kept the soil hydrated, and dug out weeds every week.
We used the garden as an outdoor classroom, where art, science, and engineering came together. Students made Halloween and fall-themed decorations to hang up in the patio. Students harvested what they’d grown and learned the science of pickling, made fresh garden salsa, and explored essential oils. We examined pollination and the importance of biodiversity, the role of earthworms, parts of a plant, what different plants put into and take out of the soil, and globalization and food movement.
We really enjoyed our time at CMI and look forward to a time when we can be back in the garden with CMI students. Learning how to plan, plant, and maintain a garden is an important life skill that we are grateful we got to share with the CMI community, especially now, when everyone needs to enjoy outdoor learning more than ever.
Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School- East End Campus
Thanks to grant funding from the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes (OST) and the United Way Foundation, Urban Adventure Squad spent Friday afternoons and full days when school was closed with kindergarten and 1st grade scholars at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School- East End campus (Stokes School), completely free of charge.
During out-of-school time, Urban Adventure Squad ensured continuing education, physical activity, and neighborhood exploration for Stokes East End scholars by guiding K and 1st graders in:
- building models of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes the District and parts of six states! ;
- learning about types of clouds and creating a rainfall simulation using water, shaving cream, and food dye;
- identifying the roles of plants and animals in food chains and food webs of the Anacostia River ecosystem;
- and spending plenty of time outside of the classroom on neighborhood hikes to collect acorns and play at nearby Marvin Gaye Recreation Center. Students used recycled materials and these neighborhood treasures to create their own projects and designs.
Urban Adventure Squad values the time we had to work with these emerging young minds. We were recently awarded a continuation grant through the OST office for SY 2020-2021, which means we get to keep up with our young leaders! This year, we’ll continue working with this cohort (now in 1st and 2nd grade) on Friday afternoons via Zoom.
Geocaching D.C.'s Waterways
Thanks to a 2019 community stormwater solutions grant from the DC Department of Energy and Environment, UAS was able to partner with four different public charter schools as part of the Geocaching D.C.'s Waterways Project. Students explored their local watersheds through hands-on environmental education at Creative Minds International (CMI), DC Bilingual (DCB), and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School- Brookland campus and East End campus (Stokes School). You can read all about that project on our Geocaching D.C.'s Waterways webpage.
2018-19 School Partnerships
During the 2018-19 school year, we partnered with three public charter schools--DC Bilingual Public Charter School (DCB), Creative Minds International Public Charter School (CMI), and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School-Brookland campus (Stokes School).
DC Bilingual Enrichment with The Hive
Urban Adventure Squad created and facilitated half day programs for 1st-5th grade students in The Hive. These unique programs featured community walks and hands-on learning that aligned with each grade level's curriculum. When students were learning about weather and climate in their earth sciences unit, students in The Hive built anemometers to measure wind speed and tested them during a community walk where they recorded real-time weather data. Students built terrariums while learning about reversible and irreversible changes in the water cycle, saw sound with an oobleck experiment during a unit on vibration and the science of sound, and built bridges and explored urban design during a problem-solving unit. Students in The Hive also organized neighborhood trash cleanups while learning about our local watersheds and participated in The 50 States Project, which is part of a GPS-based scavenger hunt called Geocaching that allows students to practice map skills, puzzle solving, and teamwork.
Creative Minds Garden Education
In fall 2018, Urban Adventure Squad continued garden education programs at Creative Minds International Public Charter School. Students got their hands dirty as they worked alongside UAS program educators, who planned and led garden education programs that were integrated with the school's curriculum. These programs included interactive and imaginative lessons focused on cooking, building, designing, problem-solving, engineering, communicating, and more.
Middle school science students learned about digestive enzymes by harvesting oregano and observing an experiment with apples, explored salt as a preservative while making quick pickles, and learned how farming on the International Space Station compares to our community garden. Students visited throughout their recess periods to help plant, harvest, weed, and winterize the garden with crop covers and mulch. Recess students harvested radishes and made salad dressing, learned about the American Indian method of planting the three sisters--rice, beans, corn--together, and picked lavender for lemonade and scones. Through our work, we engaged over 400 students in grades PK3 through 8th grades.
Stokes School was the partner school on Urban Adventure Squad's DC's Hidden Waterways curriculum, funded by the DC Department of Energy and Environment's 2018 Stormwater Solutions grant. You can read all about that project on our DC's Hidden Waterways webpage.
2017-18 School Partnerships
During the 2017-18 school year, we partnered with two public charter schools--District of Columbia International School (DCI) and Creative Minds International (CMI) to offer enrichment programs.
At DCI, we created programs in three- and four-week units that brought students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades out across the city, meeting guest educators, hiking through trails in Rock Creek, going behind the scenes at local theaters, finding and creating public art, learning around the recycling process, and much, much more:
Electronic Trash Art. During this unit, students learned about current methods of electronics disposal and the effects on the environment. Students learned from a representative of the scrap recycling industry, visited the American Art Museum for a tour and gallery talk that focused on found objects and electronic art, hiked in Rock Creek Park, and created their own electronic trash art projects.
DCI Pop Up. Students prepped for all aspects of an entirely Squad-run pop-up restaurant under the guidance of food industry expert Peter Fox, who has over a decade of experience at Wagshal’s, a Washington, D.C.-based food business. We visited TaKorean for a behind-the-scenes tour of a creative fast casual concept and Timber Pizza Co. to explore a sit-down restaurant that changes its menu with the seasons. Andrew Dana, owner of Timber Pizza Co., offered students lots of memorable advice, including his thoughts on naming a restaurant. He said that a restaurant name should be: 1) easy to spell, 2) not already on Google, and 3) cool. And so “Good Vibes and Empanadas” was born!
D.C. Performing Arts: History and Culture. This unit included team-building activities, a workshop with the Howard University Step Team, a tour of Wooly Mammoth Theater, and a stage combat workshop with Roundhouse Theater.
DCInstallation. DCI students focused on the role of public art by exploring various installations in downtown Silver Spring and by geocaching in their school’s neighborhood. The DCI Squad decided to convert a broken foosball table at the school into a ping-pong table featuring a community mural on the tabletop surface. Squad members used drills to take apart the foosball table, prepped and primed the new table top, created 12-inch by 12-inch designs on paper, and then painted those designs onto the ping-pong tabletop before securing it to the table base with drills.
D.C. Wildlife and Habitat Preservation. During this unit, students learned about wildlife in D.C. and how to preserve their habitats. We spent a day in Rock Creek Park with local guest educators Chris and Nick (aka @TheBirdist) where we learned about hawks, vultures, nuthatches, robins, and more. Discussions during this unit focused on the excitement and challenges that come with being a bustling city that is filled with incredible green spaces and bodies of water.
Creative Minds Garden Education
In spring 2018, Urban Adventure Squad kicked off garden education programs at Creative Minds International Public Charter School. Students got their hands dirty as they worked alongside UAS program educators, who planned and led garden education programs that were integrated with the school's curriculum. These programs included interactive and imaginative lessons focused on cooking, building, designing, problem-solving, engineering, communicating, and more.
Specific activities included harvesting garden grown oregano to make fresh oregano pesto, which was highlighted as part of a profile on our work on the Green Schoolyards America website. Sixth grade science students experimented with different trellises for growing cucumbers and squash, and seventh grade science students spent time researching and designing a system to catch runoff rainwater. Young children learned about the lifecycle of plants and the importance of bees, and all students learning about preserving precious natural resources, and reusing materials instead of discarding them.
Through our work with CMI, we engaged over 400 students in grades PK3 through 7th grades.
If your school is interested in a UAS partnership, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.