At Gwen’s Girls, the mission is all about empowering girls and young women to lead productive lives through holistic education and experiences. And so it’s fitting that Gwen’s Girls has chosen “Matters of the Heart” as its theme for this year’s Remake Learning Days, running May 12-23.
Girls participating at the Northside (as well as at Wilkinsburg and Clairton locations) will examine a 3-D model heart and watch videos to learn about the heart’s design and functions, heart-healthy diets and physical activities. They’ll use stethoscopes and calculate heart rates.
To cap off the project, they’ll construct their own model heart using plastic bottles, straws and colored water to simulate blood pumping from the right atrium into the right ventricle, and then into the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary vein, and into the left atrium and left ventricle, ultimately through the aorta to feed the body … before starting the cycle again.
There may be nothing more holistic than how the heart is interconnected with our lives.
“There’s so many different layers of learning with each of these activities — the health and wellness of them, learning about themselves, what is the best way for them to eat and exercise, and the impact of certain things on their bodies, and then exploring what’s happening around them,” says Kathi Elliott, CEO of Gwen’s Girls.
In the same way, Gwen’s Girls encourages girls ages 8-18 to learn beyond the classroom with its after-school programs. Hands-on activities grab their attention and motivate them to participate. “We want to hopefully spark an interest in wanting to learn more,” says Elliott.
Matters of the Heart is not only a good health sciences lesson but also “a cool experiment,” says Merridith Murray, who oversees the academic programs at Gwen’s Girls, many of which are STEM-related to point girls toward good careers.
“It’s an inquiry-based science lesson activity,” says Murray. “We always want them thinking critically, hypothetically, about what they think will happen. We use the ‘KWL chart’ — what you know, what you want to know, and what you want to learn.”
Gwen’s Girls has a strong relationship with Remake Learning, having participated in the annual festival since its launch in 2016. “It’s an experimental and tangible way for them to learn,” says Elliott.
During its weekday programs, Gwen’s Girls offers concepts that girls may not receive in school. One amazing science project underway is studying the growth and development of a baby chick, from the cellular level to an embryo, says Murray. And the learning that students get from Gwen’s Girls programming during Remake Learning Days and year-round goes way beyond STEM learning.
“The relationships they’ll form and the expectation for success is unparalleled for African American girls and children, with the challenges they face in school and being at risk in general,” Murray says. “It’s not something you’re going to get in a typical program.”
Elliott understands the roles that out-of-school-time partners carry, especially with the learning loss that has surfaced post-Covid: “We are 100 percent all-in in partnering with schools and parents to help mitigate that learning loss,” she says. “For years our programming has been, and it will continue to be, focused on girls and particularly Black girls. But the education is open to any student living in Allegheny County who needs additional support.”
Along with Gwen’s Girls, many other organizations are partnering with Remake Learning Days to fill the Northside with science learning and much more during the festival. Among the offerings:
- On May 14, the Carnegie Science Center will host Exploration Humanity. This all-day event takes visitors through every facet of what it means to be human. Explore what works inside of us in the CSC’s 3rd Floor exhibit, BodyWorks. Learn about humanity’s early origins with an Artifact Dig and Early Hominid Timeline, discover more about our culture with an Art History Matching Game, and test your anatomy and physiognomy skills with the Build a Body Demo. Then on May 21, the CSC hosts the RoboExpo, another all-day event. RoboExpo will feature special demonstrations about coding, engineering, and more while exploring how we use robotics in daily life.
- Also on May 14, SLB Radio will offer Streaming the Future, feature 100% teen hosts and teen-selected topics, music, conversation, listener phone calls and more, all streaming live. And they’ll be hosting the SLB Youth Media Center Open House on May 19. Kids and adults can tour SLB Radio’s new 3,000 square foot programming space, which uses radio and audio to amplify the voices of youth—and members of other communities whose stories are often marginalized—to educate, empower, and build community.
- The Children’s Museum has several fun events planned for Remake Learning Days: On May 2, 3 and 4, explore a Wind Tunnel at the MAKESHOP. On May 14 and 15, your kids can learn the ancient art of Paper Marbling using ink and paper. Also on May 14 and 15, visit the MAKESHOP to Build Curcuit Blocks. And later in the festival, kids and grownups can learn Papermaking on May 21 and 22.
Looking for more Remake Learning Days events on the Northside and all around the Pittsburgh region? Search right here.