Remake Learning Days Across America: A Family-Friendly Festival of Learning

Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA) is the largest family-friendly festival of STEAM learning in the United States. Beginning April 22, RLDAA kicks off with hundreds of hands-on in-person and virtual events for children and their parents or other caregivers. The premise of RLDAA is simple: children benefit from hands-on STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, and math) learning. But research shows they benefit all the more when family members learn alongside them. RLDAA is not only family-oriented, but fun. And it’s happening in more than 17 regions across the nation.

Why put all this effort into repackaging STEAM as a family event? Because it’s proven: kids who learn STEAM alongside their parent are more likely to succeed in school. They’re more likely, in fact, to go on to take advanced STEAM courses, and to pursue a career in a STEAM-related subject. RLDAA makes it all happen by offering a bounty of family-oriented hands-on STEAM for children aged pre-K through high school.

The STEAM festival that is Remake Learning Days Across America, is built on the idea that families play an important role in the pathways children choose in their learning. A parent can spark a child’s interest in a particular aspect of math or science or art. Parents can direct their child toward appropriate and exciting opportunities and experiences in and outside of the classroom. Just knowing that a parent is rooting for their academic success, can help children stick with their studies. But it’s even better when a parent learns alongside them.

Dorie Taylor, producer of Remake Learning Days Across America
Dorie Taylor, producer of Remake Learning Days Across America, with some young scientists in the lab.

We spoke with Remake Learning Days Across America Producer Dorie Taylor to learn more about this intriguing family learning festival:

Varda Epstein: Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA), is called “the nation’s biggest family-friendly festival of learning.” How many families are participating in this event?

Dorie Taylor:  With 800+ events across 17 regions, we anticipate that hundreds of thousands of  families will participate in-person and virtually. Since its launch in 2016, RLDAA has reached 150,000+ children, parents and caregivers.

A family science workshop at Citizens Science Lab, an after school organization focused on providing science opportunities for youth. (Photo credit: Ben Filio)
A family science workshop at Citizens Science Lab, an after school organization focused on providing science opportunities for youth. (Photo credit: Ben Filio)

Varda Epstein: Why are these events held for the family, as opposed to just for children?

Dorie Taylor: When a family is engaged in learning together it is more impactful and memorable for the child and gives the caregiver confidence that they can support their child(ren), have fun and co-learn without needing to know all the answers. Survey analysis of RLDAA provided by the Global Family Research Project showed that kids reported wanting more learning opportunities when they were engaged with a parent/caregiver than the kids who attended events without a parent/caregiver. Bottom line, parents simply need to be there and enjoy the journey of joyful learning together!

Varda Epstein: Your title is “producer.” Why not “founder” or “executive director?” What does it take to produce an event such as this?

Dorie Taylor: The inaugural Remake Learning Days festival launched in May of 2016 by the Remake Learning network. This network is composed of educators, scientists, artists, roboticists and more — all with the goal of making learning relevant for kids in the 21st century. They wanted to answer the questions, “What if all of us – parents, caregivers, teachers, and community members – saw ourselves as children’s learning allies?” This network soon realized they were missing an important group at the table — the parents and caregivers. We wanted to involve the parents in the process of how learning has changed and it became the inspiration to launch Remake Learning Days!

I joined as a Producer in 2017 to manage what has quickly become one of the world’s largest showcase of public events and activities involving hundreds of community organizations such as schools, libraries, museums, community hubs, tech companies and more, but the founders of RLDAA are really the incredible families, educators and community leaders who are igniting a conversation on the future of learning.

A family workshop at an outdoor community garden in Braddock, PA. (Photo credit: Ben Filio)
A family workshop at an outdoor community garden in Braddock, PA. (Photo credit: Ben Filio)

Varda Epstein: Can you tell us a bit about your background? What made you decide to initiate this project?

Dorie Taylor: I am a dancer by background, an arts manager and events planner, and culture connector. I am also a daughter of educators, a sister, wife, and mother of two boys. When I first heard about RLDAA, I found myself nodding my head as I learned about the mission behind this family-engaged festival. It aligned with what I believe in, both professionally and personally, and I knew immediately I wanted to be involved.

Varda Epstein: What can children and families hope to get out of this experience?

Dorie Taylor: Families can participate in welcoming events that introduce them to new ways children are learning. Events feature different learning themes such as arts, maker, outdoor learning, science, technology and youth voice. A family could build an art spinner using a toothbrush, paint and simple circuitry. Or, they could go on a geocache adventure outdoors and learn about the different flower and tree species. Or, they might learn the science behind making tortillas! We hope through these events that families familiarize themselves with the learning resources that exist in their very own backyard and are inspired to explore more opportunities that spark their child’s interest all year long.

A community workshop in Chapmanville, West Virginia.
A community workshop in Chapmanville, West Virginia.

 

Varda Epstein: Would you describe a few of the events?

Dorie Taylor:

  • Badgerland—Virtual Cave Tour & Activity Packets with Cave of the Mounds: Enjoy Science Experiments, Activity Packets, Guidebooks, Virtual Tours, and Educational Videos ready at your fingertips to learn more about Caves, Fossils, and Geology! Every wonder what it is like in a cave? Or how they even came to be? Come explore the underworld with the Cave of the Mounds! Learn about caves and how they came to be in Wisconsin! https://remakelearningdays.org/event/virtual-learning-with-cave-of-the-mounds/
  • San Diego County: Science of Tortillas: As many of us are familiar with tortillas, we can hardly describe the science behind them. This lesson is intended to describe the Biology, the Chemistry and the Physics that are embedded in a single tortilla and the role each takes. Learn with UC San Diego CREATE CSSI. https://remakelearningdays.org/event/science-of-tortillas/
  • DC-MD-VA: Virtual Workshop: Create a Personal Flag: Join National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) and Project Create to explore NMWA’s newest exhibition “Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle, and Mend” through a hands-on art project! During this virtual workshop, participants will design a flag inspired by the art of Sonya Clark (b. 1967). https://remakelearningdays.org/event/virtual-workshop-create-a-personal-flag/
  • Southwestern PA: Streaming the Future: Join SLB Radio as teens host a 1-hour segment of a Youth Express webcast focusing on their visions for the future — their own, their country’s or the world at large. Streaming the Future will air on Saturday May 15th (12pm to 1pm) and feature 100% teen hosts and teen-selected topics, music, conversation and more, all streaming live at youthexpress.org or via the TuneIn or the Simple Radio app. https://remakelearningdays.org/event/streaming-the-future/

Varda Epstein: No one can deny that STEM is important in our hi-tech world, but why do children need STEAM (STEM with the addition of the arts)?

Dorie Taylor: There is a natural synergy amongst science, technology, engineering, arts and math. In our RLDAA surveys, we ask parents what skills they think kids will need moving into the future and creativity is at the top of the list.  STEAM allows for a child to use their full brain to learn, question, experiment, and create.

A community workshop on tech tools for young learners in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
A community workshop on tech tools for young learners in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Varda Epstein: Events are offered at schools, museums, libraries, after-school organizations, child care centers, tech companies and more. What is the incentive for these institutions to hold such events? Do you and your co-producer have oversight?

Dorie Taylor: We are grateful to our event hosts! We intentionally design RLDAA to be a regional celebration of joyful learning and to shine a spotlight on the organizations providing those opportunities. These organizations open their doors to families during RLDAA because they are invested in the mission of helping families learn together and creating pathways for their child. By hosting events, families get to know them as a resource for their child’s learning and growth.

Duquesne City School District hosts an “Innovation Carnival” for students to teach their parents about the tech tools they use in class for Remake Learning Across America (Photo Credit: Ben Filio)
Duquesne City School District hosts an “Innovation Carnival” for students to teach their parents about the tech tools they use in class. (Photo Credit: Ben Filio)

Varda Epstein: How has COVID-19 affected RLDAA and how have you responded?

Dorie Taylor: Covid-19 has allowed for the festival format to evolve from an in-person only festival to an in-person, virtual, and hybrid festival. If a family is comfortable doing so, they may choose to attend an event in-person. For those who are more comfortable learning at home, there are hundreds of virtual experiences they can choose. And, if a family wants to pick up a take home kit and work on a project together at their own pace in their yard or the park, they can choose a hybrid event. Events are now even more accessible to families and their preferred way of learning.

The Heinz History Center, a local museum in Pittsburgh, hosts a landscape painting workshop for youth to create their own version of the city skyline at sunset for Remake Learning Across America(Photo credit: Ben Filio)
The Heinz History Center, a local museum in Pittsburgh, hosts a landscape painting workshop for youth to create their own version of the city skyline at sunset. (Photo credit: Ben Filio)

Varda Epstein: What’s next for RLDAA? Do you see expansion on the horizon?

Dorie Taylor: We hope to continue engaging families, educators and community members and to continue the conversation on how we can best support our kids as they explore their future paths. We hope that RLDAA will make a deeper impact in 2022. Stay tuned!

To find a Remake Learning Across America event near you, see: Find Events.

Found what you just read useful? Why not consider sending a donation to our Kars4Kids youth and educational programs. Or help us just by sharing!

Subscribe via email

About Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein serves as editor in chief of Kars4Kids Parenting. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Varda is the mother of 12 children and is also a grandmother of 12. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Learning Site, The eLearning Site, and Internet4Classrooms.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. TechyKids Canada says

    STEM festivals and activities like these are perfect for kids to develop an interest towards various STEM fields. It can spark their enthusiasm towards learning more. Thanks for sharing this post, it would help many to understand them importance of STEM education for kids.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.