Kyle Cummings (from left), instructor Jenny Blicharz, and Jason Pena work to hand build bowls from slabs of clay in “Ready, Set the Table, Go!,” a ceramics program offered to sixth through eighth graders. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

A season for exploration

Free Ed Portal series keeps young students thinking, engaged, and curious

4 min read

As part of the third annual Summer Explorations series at the Harvard Ed Portal, local students of all ages were able to experience programs that enriched learning, stimulated curiosity, and slowed summer learning loss, which many experts say is a key step in closing the achievement gap. Students in grades one through 12 were able to explore everything from storytelling to ceramics to bicycling. Nearly 100 kids participated in one or more of this year’s programs, which featured 10 free weeklong workshops throughout the month of July.

Gabby Samayoa shapes a molded spiral bowl while Kayli Reinoso builds a bowl using slabs and a template. Students were able to create a set of functional tableware using a variety of tools and techniques. The program was offered in partnership with the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Dante Barboza (from left), Aaron Wolfe, and Rose Cusack participate in “The Art of Personal Storytelling,” a program that taught the basics of story structure, how to paint scenes with words, and how to perform in front of peers. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Students work in pairs during “The Art of Personal Storytelling.” Dante Barboza (first image, from left), Makel Lopes, Rose Cusack (second image, from left), and Latoya Okundaye collaborate during an exercise. The program was hosted by the PRX Podcast Garage’s award-winning storyteller and host of The Moth StorySLAM, Aaron Wolfe. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Sheyla Lopez (left) and Amber Taste-Suite listen to the lesson during “Thinker Analytix.” The program, offered to students in grades nine through 12, addressed questions of civic literacy and action, and explored the knowledge and skills needed to build a just, creative, and productive community. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

David Dechantsreiter (from left), Sebastian Sanchez, and Caterina Franks work together in the “Thinker Analytix.” Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Current Events Club instructor Michaella Chung (from left) gives feedback to Grace Hammack and Sabah Vitale on their advertisement. Students learned to deconstruct news, and to become informed, responsible consumers — and producers — of media. Photo by Jenna Lang.

Jayrek Reinoso (first image, from left) and Jack Hickey share and discuss their “factory” drawings with the rest of the A.R.T. Kids Company Jamboree, while Truman Murphy (second image, center) discusses his drawing with Jack Hickey. The program unites STEM learning with creative play. Photo by Jenna Lang.

During the “Learn to Ride” Summer Explorations program at the Harvard Ed Portal, Claragh Scanlon (center), 8, of Brighton, has her helmet adjusted with help from Addison Rich (left), 10, and Sarah Kohl, also 10, both of Brighton. The program is a partnership with CommonWheels, an Allston nonprofit that provides free bicycle works and resources to residents. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Josue Flores, 8, of Brighton, leads riders turning in a prescribed area marked by chalk lines. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Laura Zou, 12, works on a solar system model during “Life in the Universe.” The program for sixth- and seventh-graders, which was presented by Harvard’s Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, asked students to consider how finding life elsewhere in the universe might be possible, and what it would mean for society. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Sabah Vitale, 12, puts finishing touches on her model of a universe whose colors appear to match the ones of her skirt. Grace Hammack puts a sweeping last touch on her solar system model. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Bryce Lee (left) of Winship Elementary School and Nolan Murphy of Saint Columbkille Partnership School, both in Brighton, join a group of 8- through 12-year-olds playing games during “Learn to Code with Robots.” Phil Mark of Root Robotics teaches Sarah Dechantsreiter. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Wyss Institute at Harvard designed and built Root the Robot to teach young learners to think and problem-solve like coders. Root moves, draws, erases, plays music, and has more than 50 sensors and actuators. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer