Posts Tagged 'schooba academy'

Tutoring finishes for the pilot program!

On January 15, The Schooba Academy launched its pilot program.  The 8 student, 7 week course consisted of three components:

  • Private science tutoring
  • In-water scuba training
  • Weekend field trips

Yesterday, we held our last tutoring session.  As sad as I am to see it end, I’m thrilled with the data!  Some highlights:

  • Average attendance was over 140%  (Um, how the heck is that possible?)
  • 75% of students  had 100% attendance
  • 100% of students had over 83% attendance
  • Average increase on their post assessment (composed of questions from the NYS 8th Grade Science Test) was 15%
  • 18 students not in the program showed up for and received tutoring
  • 100% of students say Schooba is, quote, totally awesome!  …unquote.

Last week of tutoring for the pilot!

Today marks the beginning of the last week of tutoring for the pilot program.  I don’t know if I could be more excited or pleased with the way everything unfolded.  Although it is still up in the air exactly what are the next steps for Schooba, the pilot – even thus far – has provided invaluable information for what works and what doesn’t, for what is possible and what is not.    …Not to mention providing kids from the inner-city with some pretty awesome experiences and opportunities, if I do say so myself.

Kids will be taking their post-assessments and surveys this week, so stay tuned to hear about their progress.

Upcoming events:

March 5 – Staten Island Ferry and Museum

March 13 – Final pool session

Schooba reaches 20 kids!

On January 15, The Schooba Academy launched its first pilot program with 9 students from Lyons Community School.  As part of the Schooba course, every student began to receive private science tutoring one day a week after school for 90 minutes.  By the second week of the program, however, something interesting began to happen.  Kids that were not a part of our original group began showing up!  Some were interested in joining the program, some were just interested in the tutoring, and some just didn’t want to go home and be bored (50% of American students say they are “bored and have nothing to do” when they are out of school, Public Agenda, 2004).  All of them, however, were choosing to spend their free time pursuing the learning of science.  How was I to deny them of that!?  And so the Schooba tutoring sessions turned into the Schooba tutoring center, where any student was welcome to come or go as they pleased.  And after just 5 weeks of Schooba, I am proud to announce that attendance has consistently been over 100%, and we have provided free private science tutoring to 20 different kids!

Plankton lecture and the NY Aquarium

This past Saturday, the Schoobents got a double dose of fun.  We met at The Schooba Academy’s international headquarters (the Lyons Community School science lab) to start our day with an invigorating investigation into … plankton!!  Super duper huge thanks to Tina for coming down and speaking with the Schoobents.  Tina is a zooplankton ecologist at the University of Connecticut, and she told us a bit about what she does, why it’s important, and how she got there.

Prepping the luh-bor-uh-tuh-ree


Catching Jon interested

Jon now fully amazed with plankton

Tina tellin' us what's up with plankton

Learning about plankton

After gaining a graduate level understanding of organismal interactions in the ocean, we headed out to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.  A not so short couple of train rides brought us there.

Walking to the boardwalk

Lassana at the aquarium

Rodney, Jesus, and Jon at the aquarium

Upon arrival, we were met by Dick Blankfein,  NY Aquarium’s Dive Safety Officer and Dive and Animal Department Volunteer Coordinator, who gave us a VIP tour of the compound.

In the dive shack, where the volunteer divers get suited up for their aquarium dives

Dick tells us what it's like being a diver for the aquarium

Checking out the Education Center

Learning about the animals from the man who knows them personally

Dick even showed us the behind the scenes of the shark tank!  Check out the videos:

And pics:

Lassana behind the scenes

Jon taking a pic of the turtle

The turtle checking out the rest of the group

Shark in the shark tank

It was hot and steamy in there

After our tour, we had a quick lunch (thank you, Sergio!) and explored the rest of the aquarium like civilians.  A few pics for ya:

Checkin' out the fish

Rodney took so many pictures on his phone the battery died.

Rodney snapping another shot

The shark tank from behind the glass

Ooooooooo, aahhhhhhhh

And this one, my personal favorite of the day, taken by Lassana:

Cnidarian silhouette

Billion thanks to Tina, Brad, Rob, Brittany, Mr. and Mrs. Dubov, Mom, and Alyssa for coming down and helping out.

Over halfway through with the pilot!

It’s crazy, I know, but we’re more than halfway through with our 7 week pilot program.  This week, the Schoobents will be receiving their fourth tutoring session (out of 6), and on Saturday, they’ll be attending a lecture on plankton (details to come!) and then heading to the NY Aquarium in Coney Island.

As I mentioned before, I want Schooba to foster an engagement in science for our students and cause them to choose to spend their free time pursuing science learning.  At the start of the pilot, my goal was for 75% of the Schoobents to have at least a 75% attendance.  Well, at our tutoring sessions, so far, 75% of the Schoobents have a 100% attendance!!  But what has been most exciting isn’t that the Schoobents have been showing up, it’s that in the first three weeks, we have had eight different civilian students (i.e. not Schoobents) show up for tutoring!  Now, that’s totally awesome.

1,2,3, Schooba!

New Schoobent in town!

We’re almost halfway through the pilot, and things are going great.  The Schoobents are having fun while learning science, and new kids are showing up for tutoring every week.  One kid has demonstrated a particular interest and persistence in attending the program, and I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be adding a new Schoobent to the bunch.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you ….



Age: 12

Grade: 6

“I want to learn more about science.”

How opportune, Matt!  We just might be able to help you out!

Stay tuned.

Schooba partners with local businesses!

There are three components to The Schooba Academy’s program.  All students receive:

  • Private science tutoring
  • In-water SCUBA training
  • Ongoing field trip invitations

The field trips provide schoobents with ongoing opportunities to participate in exciting science/scuba related activities with a community of like-minded individuals.  For the 7 week pilot, we have organized 3 expeditions: The Explorers Club (January 15), The NY Aquarium (February 12), and The Staten Island Ferry (March 5).  Out of a need to provide good, clean, and affordable nourishment on these days, we have partnered with some totally awesome local food wizards.

Graham Fruits & Veggies, a.k.a. Sergio’s.

On Graham Ave., btwn Maujer and Scholes.

Graham Fruits & Vegetables ... Eat you some magic.

Tri-Color Restaurant & Pizzeria

Also on Graham Ave., and also btwn Maujer and Scholes.

Tri-Color Restaurant & Pizzeria ... Where delicious is their only name.

Check ‘em out in the partners page!

Tutoring attendance at 233%!?

As I have been developing  this program and its pilot, deciding what measures I would use to assess our success was a topic of much rumination. What do I really want?  How will I know if I’m successful?  These were questions I asked myself thousands of times.  (And continue to ask myself everyday.)

It is The Schooba Academy’s mission to foster a sustained engagement in science for students from low-income communities through the learning of scuba diving. That being said, what I would like to see most is that our students choose to spend their free time pursuing science learning.  This could mean that they choose to read National Geographic instead of playing video games, or watch the Discovery Channel instead of MTV, or attend a science tutoring session after school instead of going home and being bored (50% of American students say they are “bored and have nothing to do” when they are out of school, Public Agenda, 2004.)

One of the main measures of our success will be in our attendance, which is completely voluntary.  At the start of the pilot, my goal was for 75% of the Schoobents to have at least a 75% attendance at our activities.  After the second week, the results are pleasantly surprising.  Not only are the Schoobents showing up, but they’re bringing their friends!!  Check out the Wednesday tutoring class at 233% attendance!

The Wednesday tutoring session at 233% attendance ... but missing some media releases.

And the diving begins!!!

For the past week, the Schoobents of Lyons Community School have been tutored on the science involved in scuba diving.  This past Saturday, they got to see that science in action as we held our first pool session and they got their first taste of compressed air.

The day started out with a pre-dive tutoring session at the local pizza shop. We made our own seltzer and discussed some of the similar science involved in scuba diving.

Pre-dive tutoring session at Tri-Color Pizza

Making seltzer

The rest of the crew joined us, and we began our journey to the Island of Manhattan.  We took the  L train to 1st Avenue and made the walk (a long and cold one) to the health club at Waterside Plaza, where our pool and scuba equipment were waiting.  We took this pic under the highway.

To what lengths will we go for Schooba? ...14 blocks in the freezing cold with a whole lot of heavy equipment didn't stop us.

We finally got to the pool, changed into our swim trunks, and tested the water.  Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors (Cressi, Predator Power Fins, and DarkFin Gloves), the kids had plenty of awesome gear to mess around with.

Juan and Rolman testing the water with some DarkFin Gloves on.

"Hey, Raul, can you help me with this mask?"

Jesus and Michelle swimming laps

Jesus and Lassana hangin out Schooba style

Lassana with the DarkFins

Jed, a radio reporter, came to document the event.

Jed getting the inside scoop from Lassana

Taking a moment to chat with the radio man!

The gear was setup and it was time to scuba!!

There was a short briefing before getting in the water ... Look at that laser attention!

Jed listens in on the briefing

Lassana takes his first breath off of the SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)

Jesus' turn

I think Rolman is having fun.

Juan and Rolman talking scuba

Science through SCUBA!

Chillin' underwater

Juan tells Jed about his experience with SCUBA

The Schooba scene

Big thanks to all who came down to help out.  On hand were extra dive instructors, a videographer, a photographer, a radio reporter, and a whole bunch of other responsible and caring adults.  Lissa, Rob, Raul, Jamison, Danny, Jed, and of course and as always: Alyssa, Mom, and Dad.  Also, a big thank you to Oceanblue Divers for making this possible for the kids.

Here are a few unedited video clips to give you a sense of the Schooba scene:

Oceanblue raises $200 for Schooba!!

Last night Oceanblue Divers, NYC’s largest and fastest growing scuba diving club, held their 2nd Biennial After-Holiday Holiday Party at Nikki Beach.  They held a raffle to benefit …us!, and raised exactly $200 for The Academy!!

It's hard to tell from the pic, but it was swanky.

Thank you, Oceanblue!!

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