ACE after-school program launches virtually for new school year

Since its establishment across several Harlingen CISD campuses, The Afterschool Centers on Education program has provided opportunities for students to complete homework and stay engaged with activities and classes after the school day is over.

Now, ACE is getting ready to begin virtually, on September 8, the same day students begin their first day of remote learning at HCISD.

“We will be running a synchronous program by having our live online classes and then we will try to run some classes asynchronous where we will assign a project for the week and then students will submit pictures of their end results,” ACE Project Director, Jesus Saldivar said.

During the summer months, ACE got to preview what the program would look like through an online platform. They offered high-interest courses to keep students active. Keeping health and wellness in mind, the program offered a variety of cooking and exercise classes along with other courses such as sign language, creative crafts, and STEM classes.

The live classes were held on Seesaw for elementary students and Google Classroom for middle school. Students were able to watch the instructors live as they followed along to recipes, workouts, and projects. Some summer camps were also recorded and posted to the ACE website for students to reference later.

At the elementary level, students established the Engineering Possibilities in Cyberspace (EPIC) Academy. Students worked virtually and used their knowledge to solve problems and create products while discovering the underlying math and science principles. They learned basic concepts of code to make drawings and how to animate their drawings.

“A lot of the STEM classes were of high interest,” Saldivar said. “We have little robots called Ozobots. We want to check them out to students who are participating in that course. We want to be able to distribute activity kits for students so that they have consumables to be able to work on these projects while they are being taught online.”

Another popular activity was a 3D printing program called Tinkercad.  Through this course, students were able to create various projects such as rings, dog tags, buttons, and a chess pawn.

“In the summer we had the opportunity to introduce this program to some of our elementary students and now middle schools are interested too,” Saldivar said. “Tinkercad is one of the new classes we definitely want to offer at all the campuses.”

Even though going virtual will bring many changes, one positive effect of this transition is the increased opportunity for more students to participate at once.

“Our goal is to offer classes that are going to be intentional to help students after a long day of school,” Saldivar said. “This is an opportunity for them to connect and learn some new skills. Going virtual is going to be something new, but as I tell my team, it’s not going to be difficult; it is just going to be an opportunity for us to take on a new initiative.”

ACE is available for students in Kinder through 8th grade registered at one of the following participating campuses: Bonham Elementary, Crocket Elementary, Lamar Elementary, Long Elementary, Rodriguez Elementary, Coakley Middle School, Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences, Memorial Middle School, Vela Middle School, or Vernon Middle School World Languages Academy.

Online registration for ACE opened on August 28. Click here to find out more or to sign up for courses.

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