Boys & Girls Club program continues to meet GOALS

By Lucy Norton

Boy & Girls Club intern

Just as in weeks past, we had some amazing activities for our juniors including the GOALS program as part of Massachusetts Youth Soccer at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

GOALS Soccer is a program in which local soccer coaches play with the kids and teach them the rules of the game.

This past week, I sat in on one of our more academic activities — Boys & Girls Club of America Summer Brain Gain, which helps to stem summer learning loss.

The leader of the program, Cathy Burgess, said, “It’s a fun way to keep the kids’ brains engaged even though it is the summer. We do activities that use math and science skills, but the kids don’t even realize they are using them when they do it.”

From sitting in on this program, I saw a close-knit group of kids who were genuinely excited about learning despite the fact that they were out of school. Did you know numerous studies show that most of us can lose about two months of grade level in math skills and more than two months reading level if we just sit around all summer?

Another activity I was lucky enough to see was STEAM Week. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEAM Week is facilitated by Sehba Hasan from STEAM Engine where different activities happen each day.

When I interviewed Sehba last week, she told me the activity of the day was called “push and pull,” in which children work with a magnet kit and are able to bring the kit home.

 The program is based on the concepts of magnetism. Students learn various concepts while playing 10 games. Since almost everything — from doorbells to refrigerators to TVs — involves magnets, it is very helpful that the students learn, understand and play with magnets, and understand the fundamentals behind magnets. The different concepts include:

n What is magnetism?

n Attraction and repulsion of north and south poles of a magnet.

n Magnetic field.

n Electromagnets.

n Uses and applications of magnets.

n Materials used for magnets.

The other activities are an ecotarium kit and a digital microscope lab, where children collect their own specimens and examine them under a microscope.

Sehba also designs an activity in which children build a light-up greeting card using circuits.

This week, I organized my own activity with a group of 15 children making hair scrunchies. The idea sprung from a quick conversation I had with the club’s executive director, Donata Martin. I asked her opinion on scrunchies, and she suggested I design an activity for children to create their own.

The activity was a huge hit, and I am planning to offer the activity for the last two weeks of Summer Blast. Another special arts activity we had this week was a volunteer-led knitting program.

The Sprouts, our youngest campers, were busy the past two weeks, too. The theme for Week 3 was “Plants and Trees,” and Week 4’s theme was “Gardens and Bugs.” Throughout Week 3, Sprouts learned the importance of plants to our world, the life cycle of a tree, and how to care for different plants. During Week 4, the Sprouts explored why bugs are important to plants, such as bees in a garden. Some of the other programs included Little Scientist, Gardening Science, and Social Skills.

As always, the Sprouts enjoyed lots of water play on Thursday, and the children got their energy out during Movement Dance with Ms. Kim. The Junior staff’s Veronica led the Sprouts in a bubble-painting activity as well.

We still are accepting registrations for Weeks 5 and 6 of Summer Blast. Visit our website or stop by the club at 365 Lindell Ave., in Leominster, between 8 a.m.-6 p.m.