Boys’ and Girls’ Club Plus took learning to a grassroots level during Week Five with a nature-centered program about Chautauqua Institution.
In its second year and now coordinated by Alyssa Porter, director of youth and family programs, Club Plus is a STEM-oriented initiative to give Groupers the opportunity to learn new things in the afternoon block.
The theme for Club Plus Week Five was “Nature Around Chautauqua,” with programs led by Meaghan Collins, a Club Plus program leader who develops and manages STEM education programs at the Desert Research Institute. Though the daily programs follow a varying schedule throughout the week and feature their own Club Plus sub-themes, the programs all center around the weekly theme.
Following July 22’s rain, Collins said she quickly thought out a plan to explore where the rainwater goes and how it affects the land. On July 24, Collins said Groupers learned about nature through art.
“We looked at the seaweed up close, and I had them looking at what biodiversity makes the best art,” Collins said. “So, they did some leaf rubbings, and these were some portraits of flowers that they did. They took close-up pictures and then they drew it.”
The approach on July 25 incorporated the five senses, Collins said.
“The name of this Club Plus day is ‘Immersion in Nature,’ ” Collins said. “Going into it, the design was to stimulate the five senses through nature, discovering colors, discovering sounds, discovering cycles of nature.”
Groupers broke into groups led by Collins as well as Club staff members, exploring a stream in search of insects, looking at flower pollen under a microscope. They also spotted clouds, while writing poetry about what they saw floating across the sky.
“We’ve also been integrating some improv games with it because improv ties into your thinking more; it brings you into your five senses,” Collins said.
Games such as a monarch butterfly version of the classic game “Ships and Soldiers,” allowed Groupers to learn about the life cycle of the winged creatures that flutter around Chautauqua’s grounds, as well as have some fun blowing off steam together in the afternoon sun.