Archive for January, 2011

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!!

And the tutoring begins!

Yesterday we held our first tutoring session from 3:45 PM – 5:15 PM in the Lyons Community School Science Lab.  The room was prepped with the Schooba Academy materials, curriculums, and dive gear.

The science lab

The Schooba classroom tutoring materials

The Schooba tutoring table

The dive gear ...check out that wetsuit!!

Before the tutoring began, students took a pre assessment and survey.

Jesus and Netty taking their pre assessment and survey

While the Tuesday class was finishing up their pre test, these screwballs from the Wednesday class decided that they couldn’t wait another day to get some Schooba in their lives.

The Wednesday class invasion

I couldn’t deny them their science, so class got a little bit bigger.

The first ever Schooba Academy tutoring class

We started out on the first page of the curriculum, but ended up flipping back and forth to cover topics that were of interest or needed clarification.  We went over the respiratory system, gases, and air.  We built scales out of rulers and balloons, set off stink bombs, and used syringes to compress air.  We learned that air has a weight, gases have no definite shape and no definite volume, and that because the molecules of a gas are not touching, gases can be easily (relatively) compressed.  …Oh yeah, and we learned that Dirty’s Jalepeno Heat Potato Chips are totally awesome.

Tutoring session #2: today from 3:45 PM – 5:15 PM.  Stay posted.

Pilot kickoff, a smashing success!!

The first day for the Schoobents was an early one.  We met promptly at 8:00 AM (most of us) and departed for the Explorers Club headquarters on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Like true explorers, we took the subway.

Michelle reading on the way ... or hiding her face

We arrived at the club and were ushered to the Trophy Room, where the lecture would be held.  With granola bars and Sierra Mist in hand, we began to take in our new surroundings.  Were we really in the same room that Teddy Roosevelt held cabinet meetings and  Sir Edmund Hillary talked about Everest?  …  We were certainly in the same room that a lion lay stuffed in and animals’ heads hung from the walls.

Lassana with his new friends

Rodney in the Trophy Room

Michelle and the lion

We stuffed our face with the free food (at least I did), and got ready for the lecture.  Horseshoe crabs!!!

A friendly lecture with Dr. John Tanacredi, Dowling College Professor of Earth & Marine Sciences

More lecture

Hey, Dr. John, our boy Rodney's got a question for ya.

A tour of the club followed, and the kids let me take a Schooba marketing picture in front of a giant globe.

Michelle with a bunch of famous old dudes

Juan and Rolman checkin' out the artwork

Those flags have been to the moon, to the summit of Mt. Everest, to both poles, and beyond!

The Schoobents at the Explorers Club!

Lassana in front of the club

Then, it was back to Brooklyn for some pizza, beef patties (with cheese, pepperoni, and coco bread), and Schooba Academy cake!!

Picking the tunes


Kids with the cake

Overall, it was a fantastic day.  The kids got to experience something new, meet some super interesting people, and even learn a bit of science!!  I’ll leave you with this short clip from the day:

Big shout out to Alyssa, Lissa, Rob and Mom for coming down (up?) and helping out.

Piece of cake or work of art?

Work of art.

Best birthday cake ever.

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