Northwestern PA looks forward to more than 100 hands-on learning events

Posted on Wed, April 27, 2022 by

Last year was the debut year for the Northwestern Pennsylvania Remake Learning Days Festival, and it started out strong: That first festival included 64 events. This year, the festival plans to double what it had last year for a total of 130 events across the Northwestern region from May 12 through May 23.

“I’m proud of the work that we did last year and the success that happened,” said Mike Hale, supervisor of school improvement services at IU5 and co-chair of the Northwest festival. “I think that’s a testament to the whole event that we have a lot of people that are coming back and also gaining as well. Almost doubling what we had, in my mind, kind of validates the significance of what’s happening here.”

These 130 events will happen at schools, universities, public libraries, museums and many more locations.

This large number of events wouldn’t be made possible without the support and help from the festival’s partners, Hale said: “Everyone is benefitting from everyone else involved.”

The grassroots interest that’s grown has helped the festival gain real momentum in the community, he says.

One of the biggest partners this year is Clarion University. One professor actually incorporated the festival into an education class’s project. Other partners include Erie Arts Museum, Clarion County sheriffs, community shops, a local PBS affiliate and the Erie’s Children Museum.

Because of the rural geography of the Northwest Pa. region, this festival covers quite a few counties. And the large number of events planned ensures that the entire region will have access to some type of fun-filled event for the kids.

“We’re all unique,” said Kelsi Wilcox Boyles, education program specialist at IU6 and co-chair of the Northwest Festival. “This is a way to connect the partners with one another. And to connect community partners with school, local families and local students.”

Remake Learning Days Northwest will focus on getting students off of their digital screens and into the community to learn from others as much as possible. Whole families are invited: The festival emphasizes the importance of parents engaging in learning with their kids outside of the school day. Along with events outside of the school day, there are also a handful taking place during the day for pre-K learners or younger.

5 Events to Look Forward to during Northwestern Pennsylvania Remake Learning Days this May 12-23

  1. 5/20- Community Mural Painting: This is a “paint by numbers” mural project. Mercer Area Library will have a professionally drawn canvas set out and paint provided to create a communal paint-by-numbers artwork. It will be displayed at the library once it’s finished.
  2. Weekdays during the festival – Create a Customized Bird Feeder at Northern Pennsylvania Regional College. Participants will plan, design, and create a bird feeder for their own backyard using recycled materials. The birdseed will be made available at the Warren, PA office on weekdays of the festival.
  3. 5/20- Innovation Playground: Interactive stations related to Art, Maker, Science, Technology, Outdoor Learning, and Youth Voice will be available for children ages PreK-12 grade to Wonder, Explore, and Learn with their families. Other community partners include BrainSTEPS, Autism Tough Foundation, Penn State Extension, regional STEM competition winners, local fan-favorite Ice-O will be on-site, and more at the Clarion YMCA.
  4. Everyday-  STEM Walk (Hoodlebug Trail): In partnership with the Audubon Society of Western PA, WQED, and ARIN IU28, join in during a series of simple, nature-friendly, self-paced STEM-related learning activities that families can participate in together as they travel along the trail. You can park at Divine Destiny Parking Lot.
  5.  5/21- A Drop of Gas and Oil in your Life Everyday: Discover the story of the Drake Well and how oil is transported to refineries to be made into the products you use every day through hands-on activities and exhibits at the Drake Well Museum and Park.

“If parents know that their kiddo is showing an interest in an area, that’s a great way to find events that are related to families and the child’s interest,” said Wilcox Boyles. “And really it’s sparking that curiosity to get them to want to learn more, and maybe sparking a new passion that could potentially help open doors to a career path on the road.”

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