This guest blog post was contributed by Mireya Vitela, Youth Program Coordinator at the Buckingham Youth Brigade.
The Buckingham Youth Brigade (BYB) is an afterschool and summer program for youth (K-12) at the Gates of Arlington apartment complex in Arlington, VA. The program serves to build self-esteem, civic responsibility, and leadership skills among the Latino youth of the community.
August 23, 2023
The central theme was weather as we followed the Weather Wonders activities. The majority of the focus was on extreme weather and the impact on our planet, such as learning about global warming and natural disasters. We chose this topic because we felt that it would pique the interests of the kids to learn about their environment, and also to implement a more cooperative attitude towards being mindful about taking care of our Earth. This is why we chose informing them about the water cycle as well, and chose activities that aligned with the lessons. We placed emphasis on cleaning up and preventing littering whenever we were outside with the kids, so this can be a habit for them in the future.
The favorite activities were the water cycle “storm in a cloud” and “solar oven” experiments. They very much enjoyed putting to use what they had learned in the lessons and how natural environmental processes work. We did complete one focused weather walk on a trip to 7-Eleven, asking kids to review what they learned, but apart from that they seemed to understand their surroundings a bit more and pointing out weather changes thanks to our unstable rainy, extremely hot, and stormy, camp experience.
The more we brought up the subject of climate change or how certain natural disasters affect the world and our planet, the kids seemed more understanding and learned to reduce their waste such as, leaving paper, wasting water, less inclined to help clean up, etc. We focused on asking them questions after each lesson, reflecting and guessing as to how this occurrence could affect others in different parts of the world. It seemed to build more compassion once they realized that global warming causes many natural disasters that affect people negatively in different parts of the world at a quicker rate. More specifically, at the beginning of camp, we were experiencing extreme heat conditions due to the Canadian wildfires and let them know how this is an effect of global warming. From there the kids started to pick up its impact as they learned that water levels rising were a result of ice caps melting, and began to ask if this is why flooding also happens, a sign they were beginning to analyze the information they’ve received.
Our camp was STEM focused, and we wanted to maintain the science theme, which worked perfectly with SWAB as our focus was also getting the kids to be more informed about our environment and mindful of it. One great thing they learned was how the sun provides energy to almost everything, this worked perfectly with our activities apart from SWAB and connected to different themes of our camp like cooking and solar-powered robot building.