Special Series: Remake Learning

Four of Pittsburgh’s leading media organizations — WQED Multimedia, NEXTpittsburgh, 90.5 WESA and Pittsburgh Magazine — have joined forces on a 12-month initiative dubbed “Remake Learning.” Made possible through a grant from the Grable Foundation, the project will focus on Pittsburgh’s leadership in the international movement to “remake learning” and create educational opportunities designed for our times.

Remake Learning focuses on the Pittsburgh region’s need to prepare its young people for college and the work force by building on the basics and connecting students with hands-on learning experiences that develop relevant skills.

Remake Learning
7:38 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Remember Shop Class? In Beaver Falls, It's Greener Than Ever

Beaver Falls High School students Brad Dawson (left) and Tanner Dobson work on a project in their technology education class. Students at the school have been learning how to make solar panels and build hydro and wind generators.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

At Beaver Falls High School, Tim Liller teaches technology education, or the class typically thought of as "shop."

Once a staple of high school education, shop class has fallen by the wayside with the decline of American manufacturing. But here, Liller's students still learn the basics, including how to wire a home and fix small engines. And more recently, they've also been learning how to make solar panels and build hydro and wind generators.

These are skills Liller hopes they can build on when they graduate.

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Remake Learning
4:30 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Art and Science Intersect at the Environmental Charter School's Thinking Lab

Tori Hogue (left) and Riley Wolynn, eighth graders at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, learn HTML in the school's Thinking Lab.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

On a recent Thursday morning at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, eighth graders Tori Hogue and Riley Wolynn are hacking web pages.

It's not "hacking" in the sense that often dominates headlines. The students are using a web program to inspect and manipulate websites, and in the process, learn HTML. 

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Learning Innovation
3:30 am
Wed October 1, 2014

At North Braddock's Gardweeno, Digital Literacy Meets Gardening

A microchip called a MaKey MaKey is attached to some cherry tomatoes at Gardweeno, a community garden project in North Braddock that combines digital technology with gardening.
Erika Beras 90.5 WESA

It’s a sunny afternoon on Bell Avenue in North Braddock, and a bunch of kids have gathered around a wooden table set up in what a year ago was just another empty lot.

Now the lot is a kid-driven community garden, and on the table is a microchip called a MaKey MaKey attached to a laptop. Wires that stick out from the MaKey MaKey are clamped onto cherry tomatoes. When the kids squeeze the tomatoes, different musical notes play.

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Learning Innovation
3:30 am
Thu August 14, 2014

With 'Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,' Child Development Plays a Role On Air and Online

Chris Loggins, Margaret Whitmer and Mallary Swartz (left to right), staff members of The Fred Rogers Company, read through the script of an upcoming episode of "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood."
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

It’s a Thursday morning and a small group, including several child development specialists, is gathered around a table at the South Side offices of The Fred Rogers Company.

They are dissecting a script of an upcoming episode of "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood." Everything is scrutinized: Are certain phrases under copyright? Would a 4-year-old use that word on their own? How much assistance should a character with physical disabilities receive?

They’re making sure the show aligns with Fred Rogers' vision to grow children into competent and caring beings and that every scene and line is age appropriate and holds meaning.

"Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood" is an animated PBS show. It’s based on characters from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from the beloved "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" that ran for 33 years on public television. 

STEAM Learning
7:45 am
Thu June 26, 2014

From 'Pantry' to 'Kitchen': Transforming the Way Teens Use the Library

Using the graphic editing software Adobe Illustrator, 11-year-old Winston Bell participates in a lesson on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics at The Labs at the Carnegie library’s East Liberty branch.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

People often think of the library as a place to sit quietly while reading or studying.

But the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is challenging that stereotype by turning the library into a creative hub for teens.

It was the second week of June, and Pittsburgh Public Schools had been out of session for two days. And yet, half a dozen teenagers and pre-teens were sitting around a table, enthusiastically engaging in a lesson about ancient Egypt.

“What do we know about Egypt and why was it such a big deal?” asked Oliva Hric, museum educator with the Carnegie Library of Natural History. “Can you think of anything in the landscape that maybe would make Egypt a really great place to live?”

“Because they were on the Nile River they could have had a good water supply,” answered 12-year-old Jonathan Freeman, clearly familiar with the concept.

Freeman and the other teens weren’t at summer school; they were at The Labs at the Carnegie library’s East Liberty branch.

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Behavioral Health
5:13 am
Tue April 22, 2014

How This Little Robot Could Make A Big Difference For Kids On The Autism Spectrum

Tess Lojacono holds Romibo, a social therapy robot designed to aid therapists and teachers working with children with special needs.
Credit 90.5 WESA

Ethan Welker is a 15-year-old freshman at the University School, a private college prep school in Shadyside. His mom Michele Welker says he’s a smart and curious boy.

“Around the age of 7, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s,” Michele said. “(Asperger’s is) one of the higher functioning levels of the spectrum.”

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Computer Science
3:30 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Meet Caroline Combemale: Cyber Student, Teen Teacher and Lead Guitarist

Fifteen-year-old Caroline Combemale teaches computer programming language Scratch during a recent session at Assemble Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Caroline Combemale moves to her own rhythm. She has been shaped by a loving family, a tenacious personality and a hunger for new experiences. But her life has also been shaped by hardship.

The 15-year-old grew up in Belgium and often lapses into hushed French when she talks to her mother Laura. When they moved to Pittsburgh, where Laura is originally from, Combemale (pronounced Coom-beh-mel) was in grade school.

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Early Childhood Education
8:47 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

From Homewood to Harrisburg, Childcare Providers Seek Resources

Two-year-old Khalil Kyte romps around a play area at the Homewood Early Learning Hub on a recent Tuesday. In addition to activities for kids, the Hub offers resources and training opportunities for childcare providers.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Three-year-old Aubreaune stands behind an easel showing off her painting of a T-Rex.

“It’s green and purple," she says. "It eats people. Roar!”

She’s among a group of preschool-aged kids and childcare providers who gathered at the Homewood Early Learning Hub for play time on a recent Tuesday. Besides activities for the kids, providers and families use the center to find resources, and share best practices.

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