Summit Christian Academy (SCA) in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers transitional kindergarten (TK) through eighth-grade to nearly 60 students. As part of a strategic effort, SCA’s school board has been exploring ways to expand learning opportunities outside of the classroom that continue the school’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) and reduce the potential for learning loss during breaks. The result has been the development of a new Extended Learning Program, which launched during this year’s spring break.
Fourteen students attended the one-week Spring Break STEAM Program held onsite in the school’s gymnasium. Each day focused on one of the five elements of STEAM. Children also learned about the power of prayer and strengthened friendships outside of their usual classroom or cohort groups—unique to this year because of COVID-19 protocols at the school. Custom curriculum was developed for the program, considering attending age groups and the school’s facilities.
Engaging, hands-on activities—DIY nano bugs, popsicle catapults, simple robots, 3D animal puzzles, popsicle flashlights, and more—provided engaging learning opportunities while encouraging problem-solving and teamwork.
Children also grew their critical- and creative-thinking skills through playful activities, such as obstacle course construction. For this activity, children were broken into two groups and instructed to draw out a feature for an obstacle course, noting what would be needed to build the feature and how a person would move through it. Children then met with their group to pitch the idea and determine the best three to five features for their group’s part of the obstacle course before building and running the course.
Inventor Lab, a favorite of the children, provided the opportunity to explore the power of their own imagination and creativity. Using an assortment of recyclables, craft supplies, and household items, children were given the space to be an inventor. “It was great to see the children build their own unique designs. They thought through how they wanted something to look, move, and function. We were able to empower them to be creative without the limits of a set outcome, and they flourished,” said Katie Schleenbaker, spring program curriculum developer, instructor, school board member, and volunteer.
Feedback from this new program has been exceptionally positive. Attending children and parents found the Spring Break Program to be a big success. “Our son had an amazing time at SCA’s Spring Break Program,” shared parent Nicole Lawrence. “He learned about science and art, having fun the whole time! His favorite activity was Inventor Lab, where he got to bring his own creations to life. We will definitely be signing up for the upcoming summer break program.”
“God has led us to think bigger as we refresh our strategic plan for the school,” noted Hillary Schlehuber, parent and school board chair. “The new Extended Learning Program has been the result of much prayer and passion to see our school grow the services we offer families and our community. The positive impacts of a program like this to our school, students, families, and community have the potential to multiply exponentially. We have also already seen relationships with supporters, donors, and volunteers strengthen as we worked together to kick off the program this year.”
SCA’s school board is currently developing additional elements of the new Extended Learning Program, including a summer program that will offer themed learning opportunities for children. If you are interested in engaging with or supporting this program, please contact the school’s front office
By Hillary Schlehuber