Archive for February, 2011

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.

“We are family!” – Sister Sledge

In science class the other day, students were asked what communities they belonged to.  One Schoobent came up with this list:

Now, how are you going to put a price on that!?

(“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

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.

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