FlexFriday includes time to make academics real, learn more about our community and culture, experience the arts, and learn from those in the FlexSchool community.
A cornerstone of the FlexSchool experience has always been FlexFriday – a weekly opportunity for students to apply their classroom learning to the real world through experiences such as field trips, service projects, science labs, hands-on activities and live interactions with professionals in the field. We are pleased to say that we continue to provide FlexFriday enrichment programming despite the Covid-19 crisis. When restrictions are in place, our FlexFriday options each week may include:
In-person option: An outdoor opportunity for students to connect in person for fun, hands-on, experiential learning activities, while practicing all safety protocols.
Virtual option: FlexSchool’s virtual speaker series features exciting activities such as live, guided tours, learning activities, speakers from a variety of fascinating professions and more!
See a sampling of some of our recent experiential learning outings below.
At FlexSchool, we love hands-on, project-based learning! This week, FlexSchoolers were challenged to transform math class into their own bubble factory. They applied their math skills to every stage – from calculating their daily output, to comparing shipping rates to making and testing a real bubble solution. Who knew math class could be so much fun?
Students from both FlexSchool campuses rolled up their sleeves for a FlexFriday volunteer day at the Pleasantville Community Garden, which grows fresh, nutritious food for donation to local food pantries – an important component of a crucial food supply that might otherwise only include nonperishable and canned foods.
FlexSchool students got to meet video game producer Steve Patterson on a recent FlexFriday virtual visit. Steve told the story of how he broke into the business, and shared his best tips for building a successful career in this exciting field!
Ever since cardboard entrepreneur Zachary Rotholz of Chairigami introduced FlexSchool kids to the art, science and business of cardboard carpentry in a hands-on workshop, our students have been busy designing and executing their own original creations for our Cardboard Box Challenge. Last week, the students exhibited their work in our Virtual Fair -- and Zachary even returned for the event, to see everyone’s finished products!
Notice anything unusual about this multi-sport athlete? Alanna Flax-Clark has tried all kinds of sports – from surfing to skiing, kayaking to curling, and rock climbing to ziplining – all despite having a wheelchair! After showing signs of quadriplegia at a young age, Alanna persevered and rebuilt her life – twice!
The competitive para-equestrian and disability advocate shared her inspiring story during a special FlexFriday virtual visit.
Meet our oldest FlexFriday visitor ever: Otzi – a 5,300-year-old mummy with a mysterious past. FlexSchool students got to meet Otzi and learn about DNA science on a virtual visit to Cold Spring Harbor Lab.
What do functioning gears, sturdy dorm furniture and a pair of goggles have in common? They can all be crafted out of cardboard! At a special all-campus event, The Cardboard Carpentry Workshop, FlexSchool students got a crash course in creative cardboard engineering and artistry from entrepreneur Zachary Rotholz -- and then got a chance to put their new skills into action.
In the second of our special three-part FlexFriday series on media literacy, visiting speaker Ashley Yates gave students an eye-opening tour of the many ways misinformation – and disinformation – can sneak into our lives.
In a thought-provoking FlexFriday event, the second of a special three-part series, FlexSchool students watched the conclusion of the important Netflix original docu-drama The Social Dilemma. They then acted as cultural ethnographers and journeyed into a guided intellectual discourse surrounding the history of digital media, as it relates to the film, and what it all might mean to us today. Students then created a special presentation to share what they learned with their younger classmates.
Which planet could float on water? Which moon in our solar system could potentially host alien life? What releases the energy of 12 million volcanoes? FlexSchool students learned the answers to these questions and many more during a live virtual tour of the solar system with mobile planetarium guide Matther Meyer.
What were the odds that two FlexSchool students, on two different Halloween hikes, in two different states, would each gently catch and release a praying mantis at about the same time? Also spotted on FlexFriday: A frog, a snake, horses, ducks and turtles -- not to mention a PacMan, a Pokeball, a JoJo Siwa impersonator, the grim reaper and more! Berkeley Heights students visited the Loantaka Brook Reservation, while Bronxville students visited Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and a festive fall day was had by all!
Within moments of being introduced to poet Eve Hoffman and artist Sal Brownfield, FlexSchool students flooded the chat with single-line poetry -- some silly, some sweet. The creative duo paid a virtual visit on FlexFriday to discuss Celebration of Healing, their jointly created book of portraits and the accompanying stories of 21 individuals whose lives were impacted by breast cancer.
David Rogers, producer, director, and editor of many popular shows including Seinfeld, Parks and Rec, The Office, and Upload, had dozens of rapt students in his FlexFriday session today! He talked about how his passion was ignited (Superman movie), what it’s like behind the scenes on a set, how he manages his own anxiety, how car scenes are shot, and what Steve Carrel is really like! He answered questions from some of our diehard Office fans, and gave advice to aspiring writers, actors, and editors. He told us that his most recent project begins streaming on Netflix today, Space Force!
There was instant rapport between FlexSchool students and visiting Yale University linguistics student Evan Hochstein, who joined us virtually from Austin, Texas on April 24, 2020.
Evan challenged the kids with several puzzles of the sort one might encounter at NACLO (North American Computational Linguistics Open competition) -- an Olympiad-style contest for high schoolers -- and our kids were up to the task!
In fact, some students dove into the puzzles before they’d even received full instructions!
When Evan, who studies the ancient language of Egyptian, asked if anyone else had a favorite foreign language, he found a room full of kindred spirits: Our virtual classroom just bubbled over with enthusiasm for an astonishing array of languages, including Japanese, Gaelic, Norwegian, ASL (American Sign Language), Spanish, Indonesian, Mandarin, French, German, Swedish and Latin!
After several highly engaging language puzzles, one student loved the session so much that he spent the afternoon creating his own language!
Many thanks to Evan for this inspiring and memorable event.
Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the FlexSchool model. So every Friday -- or as we call it, FlexFriday -- our students get out of the classroom and into the world, to make meaningful real-world connections through activities such as field trips, service days and visiting speakers.
We are happy to report that even in the age of social distancing, FlexSchool has continued to provide this wonderful program on our cloud campus, where our students engage in real time with live guides, instructors and industry professionals, and enjoy fully interactive learning experiences every single week.
Today, we were graced with a phenomenal lesson from Josh Stout, a professor of anthropology. Students were very inquisitive as they learned about (and handled!) artifacts over hundreds of thousands of years old.
Our sincere thanks to Josh and Wendy for coming in!
Others: In a fun-filled Friday, some students are at the library working on their long term projects; others are about to embark on a trip to St. Hubert's animal shelter.