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Shifting the focus from screen time to science time in LA

Today’s elementary school students are part of the digital generation – many have never known a life without the Internet, smartphones and tablets. We kept this in mind when we taught science to the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club was a host site for GSK’s Science in the Summer™ program where we showed kids what it took to make their own sports drinks, make and test “bouncy” balls, and participate in physical exercises including measuring their own jump distance. In other words, in LA for some lucky kids, science became physical and fun -- and diverted kids’ attention away from the screens.

Throughout the program, teachers could see students becoming increasingly engaged. “One student, Arabel, entered the class with a group of girls who were clearly more interested in texting than in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math),” said Carlyn Oropez, Ed.M, director of operations for the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club. “However, by the end of the camp, Arabel actually began to sit toward the front of the class so she could be more involved in the science experiments. Her interest in STEM became abundantly clear and at the end of the camp, she said that she wanted to grow up to be an engineer.”

The GSK Science in the Summer program, which is in its 31st year of operation, now reaches more than 25,000 kids across the country per year, and has nearly 200,000 alumni to date. The 2017 program focused on the Science of Sports – allowing kids to explore how their favorite sporting activities link to STEM. In 2018, the program will focus on the Science of Space and, if the stars align, more kids will turn off their phones and tune into science.

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