Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just another day in the life of budding scientist

We are looking at samples of composting materials that include worms, "rolly pollies",vegetable peels and old newspaper. In just a few week we are expecting to see our first crop of summer vegetables, so perhaps we'll want to borrow a supply of prepared compost, if someone could spare us a few tubs. Not enough time to wait for the rot. I think.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Waste Water Pictures

Here are just a few pictures that the children took while on the field trip.

Water Waste Treatment Plant

Today we went to the water waste treatment plant, and boy can I say "me and my little group of students have really learned a lot." As soon as we got there we went to a building that takes sand and rocks out of the water (this is the first level of cleaning.) Then we went to a huge tank of the horrible smelling gas that comes from the waste water, it travels under ground underneath about 7' of wood. The bacteria in the wood mixes with the bacteria in the gas causing it to end up smelling like wood. After that we went to another tank that reminds me of a big mixer, but this one gets big chunks of trash out of the water (level two.) The last tank we went to showed us the nearly clean water all that needed to be done was boil it. I would like to thank the tour guide for showing us the steps used to turn waste water into drinking water.

Earth Team guys got the facts...

The Waste Water Treatment plant field trip had physical challenges in addition to just “raw” information. Sorry for the pun. Our group walked around the filtering tanks and vats seeing up close how complicated this process is. We even met an employee along the walkway that wanted to know who we were and offered that employment at a waste water treatment plant was really “secure”. He also wanted us to share this information with the kids. He said it was a civil service position and a person would be able to work almost anywhere in the world.

When we sat down for lunch other employees asked about our group and seemed pleased
that our kids were studying in an environmental program this summer.

We were all surprised that the process used so many non-toxic substances.

Here’s how our guys summed it up.
Monteyvion (7 years old)….we learned about clean water and dirty water.
Joshua (8 years old)…they used a machine to help make the dirty water clean again. They also clean it with lime stones with green slime growing on top (algae). Bacteria are used in someway.
Kawame (7 years old)…I like seeing the dirty water turn clean from running it over the rocks.
Niemen (7 years old)…I saw some nasty water turned clean for us to use again. Rock filter tanks are seven ft deep. The rock came from Texas and is limestone.
Kyleon (7 years old)…..Learned that at the waste water plant most of the smelly air is circulated 6 ft underground and up through wood chips vats to remove the odor.

I think they got the picture that almost everything can be reused once you clean it up.

Shamaria's Family Meeting

This is Shamaria's mother again. I wanted to give an update. We had our first family meeting about recycling yesterday,and I was Wowed by Shamaria's knowledge of recycling. As parents we are always the ones teaching our children, and not too many times our kids are teaching us . But the tables turned yesterday, because she did all the teaching and I listened. I was so proud of her. When I asked Shamaria how does she feel about recycling she said " It makes me feel happy b/c you can help save the planet. She also said "I feel like recycling today". The meeting was about 25 minutes long. The meeting also included Shamaria's 3 year old sister Mariyah that has her own topic which was plants. Following the meeting we went outside where me and the girls plant 2 different types of flowers from some seeds I purchased a few months ago, we also used some soil that was previously in a pot of flowers that had died, so we were able to reuse the soil we already had., It was fun but extremely hot. Will let you know how that goes : )

Waste Water Treatment Plant

Today we took the children to Waste Water Treatment Center. I had a good time, even though it was quite smelly,but I still seen things that I never seen before. All the kids had a lovely time.......Let's see what some of the children had to say.

Trinity Taylor says: "I like the field trip,because we saw some black water. I also liked it, because the instructor had flip the coin in the water to see if the water was clean. I liked everything about the field trip. I really would like to go back to the Waste Water Treatmenr Plant, so I could show my mother everything I have learned. I like when they showed us the system on how to make the water clean."

Jailyn Vickers says: I liked the field trip because, we got to go look at all the water. I liked when we went to go see all that bubbly water. I also liked when we went to see the water that had all that green stuff in it. It had green stuff, because the water was getting clean,

Fieldtrip Mondays


Mondays are new and exciting experiences to all of us. Last week we went to Frito-Lay. Where we learned about their means of transportation.The kids got the opportunity to get on every truck, van and trailer that there was.The favorite part for most was honking the horn and taking pictures.

At Frito-Lay I learned that they have big and small trucks.The small trucks go to little stores; and the big trucks are for grocery stores.
Beyonce Hart

At Frito-Lay a few weeks ago I learned that they make different kinds of chips.In Japan they have shrimp flavored chips.
Ishmael Ellington

Water Treatment Center

must admit the smell got to us all,but we managed.The kids learned where our drinking water comes from and the process it goes through.

They took us on a tour. Thye told us how the water is cleaned and how it gets dirty.

Hayzul Powell

Tahjonae's trip to the Waste Water Treatment Plant

Today i went to the water plant.When we first got in it, it was really nice they had a pretty demonstration of what it looked like outside.Then it was time to go outside were some places stank. So we went across the street and went up the stairs were they had a bad stench.
Then we had to go inside were the smell was coming from ,so i went inside of the stinky
building and I almost passed out.After that we walked around to places were they showed us
dirty water that they clean.And this man showed us that if you throw a penny in the dirty water it will come back up .And this is what i learned and saw by. ~Tahjonae

Randy's trip to The Waste Water Treatment Plant

today I went to the water plant to learn how water is recycled ~Randy

Lewis's visit to the Waste Water Treatment Plant

The water stinks I'm surprised that our drinking water comes from this same water.
I learned the water goes through many different levels of cleaning before it is clean enough for us to actually drink. (I'm not drinking any anytime soon.) There was a foul smell it burnt my nose but I got over it. In the end I did have some fun learning how our drinking water gets clean. It was fun and I learned alot.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Air pollution

The last two weeks have been wonderful.These kids are really learning and are anxious to learn more. Last week recycling triggered their minds. They wanted to let the whole world know that they recycle and that recycling is something for everyone.

This week is a bit more challenging for we are learning about air. The main focus is air pollution. We are conducting experiments and taking pictures. Kwame...wow! He walked up to an apartment, greeted the people, and asked to take a picture. As we walked away the lady said, "That was cute."

I felt happy that they are not only learning the things we are teaching, but are applying them to daily life. ~Nazareth, 2nd and 3rd grade teacher

Chairs, tables, buildings, cars, airplanes, jets, boats--all these things pollute our air.
Jordan Hart

Last week we learned about recycling. We did a recycle race. You can recycle anywhere you go. Please recycle.
Hayzul Powell

Pollution before and after projects

Today the tech class did some before and after pictures of how the enivonment would look like if people continued to go about polluting the world as they currently do.

In the beginning picture we have clean water, happy people, clear (clean skies), and over all health. But in the after picture we have oil slicks everywhere, dead or dying animals, dirty water, dying plants, and dark some-filled skys that try and block out the sun.

The tech students are very creative and had some really good ideas on how the enivronment should look "before and after." With the help of Charleston Harris (CJ), Randy Chambers, and Tahjonae Williams, the teachers (Ms. Lenice, Ms. Deanna and Mr. Uchenna) have a better understanding of how they think.

The Earth Team and Our "Dust Catchers"

We are winners!

We’ve learned so much about recycling and air pollution. We’ve experimented and tried a lot of different things that have helped us understand both of these new concepts.

"We don’t put paper in the trash because it goes in the recycling bin. I’ve learned about air pollution and what dirty and clean air is." Monteyvion

"We pollute our air when we let smoke come out of our engines for a long period of time." Niemen

"Acid rain that comes from volcanoes pollute our air." Kyleon

"If a place is dirty the air can get dirty and if the whole air is dirty you could get sick and possibly die." Joshua

"I can see our recreation center from my house." Kyleon.

"We eat lunch there and its also where we play and we also hung our 'dust catchers'.”
Monteyvion, Josh, Kyleon, and Niemen

"The dust catchers catch dust and the things that pollute our air." Kyleon and Josh

"Its also used to see if our air is clean or dirty." Monteyvion

Niemen took the awesome picture of Mr. Cliff helping us hang up our dust catchers on the recreation building and Ms. Brandie took the picture of the Earth Team as we stood under our dust catcher.

Learning about air pollution

As I left my office last night, I noticed something hanging outside the door.


My first thought was to wonder why maintenance put that there. Then I remembered seeing these strange strips earlier in the day in Ms. Bert and Ms. Brandie's classroom.

The kids are studying Air Quality as a part of their Environment/Recycling program this week. I'm guessing it has something to do with figuring out how clean/dirty our air is. I believe Ms. Lauren and Ms. Nazareth's class did something similar because I saw them setting jars outside earlier this week.

Maybe Monteyvion, Niemen, Hayzul, Ishmael, or someone from one of those classes can explain to us what they are doing and what they find out. I would love to know!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frito Lay Field Trip

These are some pictures of our most recent field trip to the Frito Lay Plant. The students learned about the was to cut down on air pollution and why it is important to keep you car in good condition. I would like to thank the Frito Lay group that gave us the tour and allowing us to temporally leaving them hard of hearing.

I never knew what a musical was!

Last night, thanks to their Seats for Kids program, we were able to choose eight kids to attend Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Dallas Summer Musicals. A couple of weeks ago, the kids saw Wizard of Oz.

The University of Values and After-School Academy is committed to providing new and unique experiences to kids in our after-school and summer programs to help them gain a broader perspective about the opportunities available to them...whether it's attending plays and musicals or becoming an engineer who can help reduce emissions at a Frito Lay plant.

We believe all of our kids have the potential to do great things if they are exposed to the right opportunities that help them "dream and envision who they can and will one day become."

So, it's always exciting to me to hear kids excited about these new experiences.

When I asked the kids how they liked Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jailyn excitedly said, "I never knew what a musical was!" Then, as we exited the freeway to Roseland, the kids got excited all over again, "Look! That's where we went!!" Sure enough, a huge billboard by Roseland advertises Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

All eight kids said they liked the musical and would go back. They especially liked the flying car and when the man caught the kids.

Stay tuned...we will continue to have more wonderful opportunities to come!

Trip to Frito Lay plant

One of the main objectives of the After-School Academy/University of Values is to prepare kids for their future. We do this by exposing them to new and different experiences, teaching them to greet, and focusing on other social skills.

The kids are impressive. If you walk in the summer program, you will often have 18 little hands stuck out, ready to greet you. This summer we are also focusing on caring and manners with the kids.

Mondays are field trip days. In the spirit of exposing them to new places and new ideas...and in keeping with our focus on Environment and Recycling, they went to the Frito Lay plant. Matt and Steve have been absolutely wonderful in their willingness to take on a group of kids and figure out a way to break down "emissions" to the kids. They brought out their big "rigs" so the kids could explore, honk the horns, and then learn how Frito Lay is trying to keep the big rigs from polluting the air so much.

The kids had a great time. All of the field trip surveys came back saying they enjoyed the field trip and wanted to go back.

What was even better for us was the email we received from Steve the very next day:

Janet - I just wanted to take a moment to commend your group. The Frito team had a lot of fun, however, our hearing may never be the same after all of the horn blowing on the trucks.

Sylvia and all of her helpers did a great job and your students were well behaved, courteous and curious. It is very interesting for us to work with a group of that age. I think we all left thinking it was fun, but don't have the energy to do it everyday. You and your team are doing great work.

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it. I hope the kids enjoyed it as much as we did.

Best of luck. Let us know if there is anything else we can do.

Thanks, Steve
We truly appreciate Steve and his team. It's always nice to know how our kids make an impression on people.

Thanks, Steve, Matt, and Frito Lay. Thanks Miss Sylvia and team. And thanks University of Values...for being such great greeters and learners!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Teens Giving Back!!!

We as parents sometimes don't recognize how valuable our children are. My daughter Phantasia is volunteering with us for the summer. She has been doing an excellent job!!!
She does not always seem like she is ready for the day, but she actually is. Whenever it is time to pick the kids up for the program she is right there with me. Once we are at the program, she is right there to greet the kids with a hand shake and a smile.

I sometimes walk around just to she what she is doing. When I go to the class that she is in, she is always interacting with the children. The small girls tell me that she is their best friend. I get all warm inside when I hear that.

Today, she volunteered with Ms. Danielle from the Roseland Outreach Center. She delivered Meals On Wheels and she also did some job search. This is a 14 year old girl that is on her way to college!!! I have all the Faith in the world for her. I know she gets tired of me pushing her to stimulate her mind, but she will appreciate it in the end.

Parent's Talking Recycling!!!

I just love to hear from parents. I received a phone call yesterday from a parent while we were on a field trip. Her daughter Shamaria attends the program and is in the Kinder class along with Trinity.

She was asking me how the field trip was going and what we were doing? I told her it was going good and that we were doing a group discussion at the Frito Lay Plant with some of their staff.

She then begin to tell me about how Shamaria was telling her that they need to start recycling. She just laughed and said, OK! Shamaria we will have a family meeting so we can talk about recycling.

I thought that was so awesome! See even when we think parents are not listening to their kids, they are.

I am not sure if they have started yet, but it is just good to know that her mom is glad about what Shamaria is learning.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Props to Lewis

In our tech class we have a practice of having every student take their memory cards our of their cameras at the end of each day. Today after all of the field trip excitement is seems that ever student forgot the rules. Every student, that is, except for Lewis. This is a blog post to give him recognition for being the only student in the class to remember to take out his memory card and put it in its case. Good job kid, keep it up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Out of The Mouth Of Babes!!!

I heard the funniest story today from one of our parents. Her daughter Trinity attends our University of Values Summer Program. She is in our Kindergarten class.

I was chatting with her and I asked her how does Trinity like the summer program, and she looked at me with excitement and tiredness. She told me about how Trinity keeps her up until 1am in the morning talking about the program. She said that she wakes up throughout the night saying, "Is it time yet?", "Is it time yet?", and her mom would say, "No Trinity not Yet", and if you could see the look on her mom face, it would make you laugh!

She told me that Trinity showed her a bag filled with white stuff, she is not sure what they made, but all she knows is that Trinity said, "Now momma you can't eat this, but you can smell it", and she replied, OK! and she smelled it. It was a project that they made with UNT Biology Department Assistant Professor, Dr. Rudi Thompson and staff.

They were making all kinds of stuff, like a miniature landfill, homemade paper, a recycling poster and plants. They even gave them neat recycling bags to take home to store or carry items in.

They are learning so much. I am also proud of my staff for their efforts, they work really hard and diligent everyday to make sure the kids learn and have fun at the same time.

I really did enjoy their recycle relay that they had today, it was hilarious seeing the kids run and pick up trash, you hardly ever see them pick it up, they are usually throwing it on the ground. How funny!!!

I am looking forward to the days ahead. I can't wait to see what Trinity has to say next. Her mom told me she says everyday, I am ready to see Ms. Silver and Ms. Berp. Our names are actually Ms. Sylvia and Ms. Bert.


Some of the students after the recycling/trash pick outside on the first day of summer camp.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Enviromental Fair Excitement

Excitement is in the air! The kids can not hardly wait to start on projects for the enviromental fair at the summer. The kids in the second and third grade class have great ideas.

Today two of the kids were helping with chores when Ms. Janet came by. They were telling her all about our cool word journals which we created out of recyclable materials. They were so excited to tell her about how they had so many words in their journals they were running out of room.

One child also was telling all about a very creative scavenger hunt project that she wanted to do for the fair.

I am so excited to see how involved the children are becoming and I can not wait to see their creations come to life.

The kids are moving faster than you would think...go figure..

We are up and running! Already we are making progress building our social and behavioral skills while striking some new notes with our science and technology based summer program.

Our ecology demonstration today was off the wall. There was hardly a moment to breath from building a simulated landfill, and playing recycle bingo with all kinds of plastics and paper products. I even learned that paper towels are not recycled after use because they have been soiled and are no longer considered to be "neutral". Also the landfills are loaded with paper that could be recycled to produce other paper items and other products. What a waste to put any unsoiled paper in the trash. Our kids got the message loud a clear.

We even had a break through today on a smaller scale when one young fellow saw how difficult it was to keep up his "fashionable saggy pants" and work on the hands on projects we had. With only a mild suggestion (no criticism is appropriate) he came in today and proudly announced that he had borrowed a belt just so he wouldn't be preoccupied with holding up his pants. It only took two days of struggle and just a mild prodding for him to "choose" another option. Why the big deal?

Well I have heard that we see much older young men participating in our CDM Skills Path job training programs where they are instructed on how to present themselves for employment, and some have been reluctant to accept the fact that having to adjust their saggy pants so often tells an employer that they are going to loose hours of time on the job while hoisting their pants.

This shows real social intelligence developing from natural consequences at an earlier age which is part of our behavioral coaching program this summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Often times we underestimate the understanding of children, well at least I do. Just yesterday I met Kwame, Joshua, Niemen, Monteyvion, Justice, and Kyleon, and they are truly amazing. It seems as though I work with kids everywhere I go, but these kids are by far the best. Give them a task or an idea and they run miles with it. Every morning my co-teacher Ms. Bert and I reiterate the importance of formal greetings, caring for each other, and manners and they go above and beyond the call of duty in being caring, good mannered, greeters.

Recycling Electronics- Found by The Tech Class

"One of the biggest areas of waste that people are allowing to take over landfills today is electronic waste. "It's not quite as simple as sticking them in the recycle bin at your curb, but it's not going to take too much work once you understand how the electronics recycling process works." -Lewis

This year there are more more possibilities than ever to find under the free from the revolution '',highly accessible wii nintindo console to sophisticated cell phones that are connected people in thenew ways . Even underprivledged laptopsin record numbers hopefully hoping.to breach the digital divide.''- CJ

"Everybody recycles materials like aluminum,glass,and plastic because it takes much less energy to do so than to make the material from the raw material. And the recycled material does not end up in a land fill." -Tahjanae

"For example aluminum ore (bauxite) must be dug from the ground expensive, labor intensive, polluiting) hauled to a mill and in a very enrgy intensive process turned in to aluminum. Recycling a can is easy, melting an exsisting can use less energy than making new aliminum and there is less material taking up space in the land fills." -Tahjanae

"Materials like used motor oild and old car batteries are toxic to people and wildlife, by recycling them we save animal life and get the low cost of not having to create new material. Used car batteries are about 95% recyclable. Very little ends up as wast after recycling. -Tahjanae

- Randy and Ishmael

-Randy and Ishmael

-Randy and Ishmael

Learning about Recycling

What do you know about technology? This summer the kids will be learning about taking pictures and videos, putting them on the computer, playing computer games about recycling, using voice recorders, doing interviews, and much more.

We have a great group of ExxonMobil Green Team ambassadors who teach the classes.

This is the Tech Geniuses class. Expect great things out of them! They will be documenting the program and creating awesome videos for us to watch by the end of the summer.

One-on-one attention. The University of Values provides opportunities for kids to get to know their teachers and the teachers to get to know their kids.

This summer the kids will engage in active learning. Today they went into the aparment complex to pick up "trash." When they came back, they separated it into trash and things that could be recycled. We had full bags of recycled items by the end of the day.

Welcome, Aviant, Angel, Jailyn, Niemen, Kwane, Jordan, Joshua, Monteyvion, Hayzul, C.J., Lewis, and Justice. We are excited you are here!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Discovering Learning

Resources...they're what our kids need to prepare in life.

I had access to resources growing up. One of my friends reminds me that my "resources" are a direct result of my White privilege. She's right. So many kids don't have the same access I did. But it's not *just* about being White. It's a culture...a mindset. It's the way the entire community values and facilitates learning. Unfortunately, many of our communities are not nurturing education hubs. I would like to think that our After-School Academy and University of Values summer program plays a part in changing that tide in Roseland.

Last week I trained our University of Values (UV) summer staff. I asked them to imagine some times they spent outside of school and what they did.

I told them about a chemistry set my mom purchased at a garage sale. I was intrigued by the carmel "recipe" and was convinced that this chemistry set was going to allow me to make Kraft caramels. I spent a number of days outside (mom wouldn't allow the chemistry set in the house) with my test tubes and potions trying to create carmel that I could eat. (I never managed to produce edible carmel)

Brandie told about watching Super Size Me! then trying her own experiment with french fries to see how they held up over time. She was appalled at how "preserved" the french fries stayed day after day.

Other staff told about observing animals on the farm or disecting/torturing frogs when they visited relatives in the country.

Yet, as they told me these stories, they quickly added, "Nothing educational, though." Nothing educational?!?!?!?! When did "education" become synonymous with "boring"??

This summer our theme is Environment and Recycling. We have high school juniors and seniors from the ExxonMobil Green Team; we have a Mayor Intern; we have Americorps members. All are teaching kids in hopes of inspiring them to think differently about the role they play in helping/hurting our environment.

I keep encouraging them to give the kids a little information, let them ask questions, and encourage them to research and explore. We have a "Tech Genius" class that will be documenting everything this summer. I am hopeful that they will create innovative audio and visual products throughout the summer.

As we went through training, I saw lightbulbs going on as the UV Teachers figured out that learning is exciting and that learning is everywhere! However, I'm concerned that teachers have done such a great job of realizing how exciting learning can be that they're going to end up wanting to do all of the exploration instead of facilitating it with the kids!

We have great staff and a great program. The kids will be taking trips to the Landfill, the Waste Water Treatment Plant, the Museum of Science and History, University of Texas at Dallas to see how the sciences provide careers in this area, and many others. If you want to keep up with what's going on, check out their blog throughout this summer: http://www.ourasafamily.blogspot.com/.

We hope to begin updating it soon!