Jumpstart & Jr. Husky Recap: Summer programs that set students up for success

 In #STEMbyTAF, #TAFSchools

Every student’s TAF journey begins before the first day of school.

We believe in setting up students for success long before they step into the classroom. That’s why each year, TAF hosts a preparatory summer program for our incoming 6th grade students at TAF@Saghalie and TAF@Washington Middle School to give them a first glimpse into what they are about to experience educationally through our TAF Academies; the STEMbyTAF academic model, engaging project-based learning, innovation challenges & workshops, free access to engineering labs & Makerspaces, and numerous opportunities to learn from industry professionals in STEM fields.

Our summer programs – Jumpstart & Jr. Husky Summer Academy – are designed to expose students to STEM-integrated, project-based learning over the course of four weeks, during which they create their first STEM projects to showcase at the end of the program. This year, students were tasked with designing their “future dream park” using virtual 3D modeling software to create a hands-on replica. Thanks to TAF’s Teacher-Scientist Partnership (TSP) Program and on-site MakerSpace, students were able to combine components from what they learned in their courses to bring their innovative park solutions and designs to life while addressing a community issue through their project.

So what does a typical day in Jumpstart look like?

Each day, students get a balance of activities that include class time to develop their projects, Makerspace time to design & create, and opportunities to learn from an outside professional through one of our TSP courses. This year, students got to learn from a landscape architect and civil engineer about product development and how to carry out the design process for building a community park. A representative from King County Parks and Recreation also came in to speak with students about critical aspects to consider when designing their parks, such as accessibility and location. Together, all of these learning experiences give students a true taste of what learning at a TAF Academy looks like: creative, student-driven, hands-on, and backed-up with ample support from teachers and professionals to guide them through the project-based learning process.

“Students were super engaged when it came to the program overall. We designed this year’s schedule in such a way where the kids could really have fun while learning. We built in breaks and fun activities throughout the day to really give time and space for kids to get to know each other,” says Stephanie Williams, TAF@Saghalie’s Extended Learning Coordinator. “They loved the makerspace time and building their 3D models of their parks through Tinkercad and getting the opportunity to showcase their creativity.”

Jr. Husky Summer Academy students participating in some field day games!
Students relaxing and having fun after a full day of learning

Summer programs can make all the difference in a student’s confidence going into the new school year. After four weeks of Jumpstart & Jr. Husky Summer Academy, our incoming students are more prepared to transition into TAF’s transformative academic model and bring their creativity, learning, and critical-thinking skills to the next level. Not only did they get to practice key skills in presenting work, public speaking, leadership, communication, and collaboration, but they also got to meet a new cohort of friends and teachers that will shape their TAF experience moving forward. With the start of school right around the corner, this is exactly what students need to feel prepared returning to the classroom and begin their TAF journey with confidence.

What did students love about our summer programs?

  • “The learning, new friends, how I learned a lot of things. Thank you guys for teaching me all these cool new things that can help me in the future!! <3.”

  • "I got to be creative on what I did."

  • "Meeting my classmates before school starts."

  • “I loved going in the Makerspace and building a 3D structure.”

  • "I liked that you got to see the teachers!"

Learn more about TAF’s Academies and support our programs today by donating, partnering, or volunteering.

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