Remake Learning Days in West Virginia inspires youth, caregivers and educators

Posted on Thu, May 2, 2019 by

On May 9–19, Remake Learning Days West Virginiawill present a showcase of connected learning, offering free and low-cost events to students, parents, and caregivers.

For Donna Peduto, executive director of the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative at West Virginia University, the power of Remake Learning Days is in providing learners with access to programs they might not otherwise encounter.

Donna Peduto, West Virginia University

“Coding, for example, is something that not all of our students have access to,” she said. “But out-of-school learning, like Remake Learning Days, really gives that opportunity for access and helps to close the opportunity gap.”

She pointed to planned events like a week-long STEM program presented by the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Clubas a perfect example.

“It’s neat because they’re going to create projects and inventions and test them out against other kids their own age at the end of the week,” Peduto said. “It’s also a showcase for our community in Morgantown and a chance to build community connections.”

Lou Karas, director of the Center for Arts and Education at West Liberty University, who distributed nine Remake Learning mini-grants to organizations to help them design Remake Learning Days events, agrees.

“Remake Learning Days is an opportunity to try new things and go to new places.”

A sense of equity informed Karas’s choices of which organizations to provide with the mini-grants, she said, with the funding going to groups in Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall counties in the state’s northern panhandle.

“I wanted to reach as many groups as I could,” Karas said. “I really wanted to include small and/or rural communities with these grants.”

Karas is excited about several activities that emphasize the wide range of age groups this year’s Remake Learning Days will appeal to.

The “Wizarding Wands” event at John Marshall High Schoolwill pair high-schoolers with middle-school students to create Harry Potter–style wands using LED lights and basic circuitry.

Rainbow cloud science experiment at Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley

And at Wheeling’s Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley, Remake Learning Days partners are planning an all-day maker spacethat will allow participants to create “rainbow clouds,” learning about the water cycle in a fun and memorable way. The Children’s Museum will also host “A Night to Shine,” inviting artists and poets of all ages to share their work with the public.

In addition to connecting students and caregivers to the many educational opportunities that exist throughout the region, a major strength of Remake Learning Days, for Peduto, is the window it provides onto the hard work and creativity that teachers use on a regular basis, but that may go largely unnoticed.

“I think that Remake Learning Days adds sparkle to what schools and after-schools and community

Lou Karas, West Liberty University

groups are already doing,” she said.

At the same time, she said, participating in a showcase like Remake Learning Days inspires teachers to think bigger and get even more creative.

“When you have that opportunity as a teacher, you up your game,” Peduto said. “Teachers say, ‘I’m not going to just do what we’ve been doing all year. I’m going to put together something new and inspiring.’”

This is the fourth year of events being hosted in the region as part of Remake Learning Days, founded in 2016 by the Pittsburgh-based Remake Learning network. But this year marks the first year that festival organizers will work independently of their counterparts in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which previously has coordinated efforts with West Virginia.

“Being out on our own just means we’re showcasing West Virginia’s efforts more,” she said. Residents in new parts of the state, such as Morgantown and Wheeling, will now have access to Remake Learning Days events in their communities.

And this year, West Virginia will have company in a number of regions across the United States: this year’s slate of Remake Learning Days Across America events expands the original Remake Learning Days to seven regions that will host their own festivals of connected learning.

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