Who says “summer school” can’t be fun?
Certainly not the elementary and middle-school students in Dallas that PCG’s UI team got to meet earlier this summer as they participated in EPIC Summer Camp. EPIC is a science, technology, and mathematics learning program that aims to prevent the “summer slide,” or loss of learning that can otherwise undo months of educational progress after school ends in June.
Nine Dallas Independent School District (ISD) schools offered EPIC from July 16-26, with engaging projects like one pictured here in which students were challenged to build a bridge at least 12 inches long with no more than 50 beverage straws. Bridges then were tested for how much weight they could support, measured by marbles added to a cup, before the bridge collapsed. Students who built the strongest bridges won special recognition–and got a new appreciation for the engineering calculations that go into producing sturdy, reliable bridges.
While exercises like these ensure students exercise their math and science muscles through the summer, students we talked to also raved about how much fun they were having, too.
“If you go to summer school, you have to do, like, work. But over here we get to do games!” said Alina Ramirez, who recently completed 6th grade at George Peabody Elementary School.
Zakia Diles, a rising 9th grader from T. W. Browne Middle School, explained how “I invited my friend. I would just tell them, ‘We are having fun up here. So just come up here!’"
Student at T.W. Browne Middle School
PCG Education-UI developed the EPIC program as part of its year-round efforts to boost student achievement through daytime tutoring, afterschool programs, summer camps, and educator staffing.
The summer camp was held at nine schools throughout the Dallas metropolitan region, including Balch Springs, Boude Story Middle, George Peabody Elementary, Mount Auburn Elementary, LL Hotchkiss Elementary, OW Holmes, Rufus C. Burleson Elementary, T.W. Browne Middle, and Webster Elementary.
Efforts to prevent and reverse the “summer slide” can pay enormous dividends in children’s learning and success in school. According to the National Summer Learning Association, Summer learning loss during elementary school accounts for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by ninth grade, according to the NLSA, and significantly decreases the likelihood students will graduate from high school or attend college.
The Dallas Independent School District is the second-largest district in Texas and the 14th largest in the U.S., encompassing 384 square miles and the cities of Dallas, Cockrell Hill, Seagoville, Addison, Wilmer and parts of Carrollton, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Garland, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, Hutchins, Lancaster and Mesquite. The district is the second-largest public school district in Texas, the 14th-largest district in the nation, and has been committed to continual gains in student achievement and success so that more and more district graduates are college and career ready, primed to be productive, contributing members to the community.
Faness Donaldson-Sinches, a rising 6th grader at Peabody, said EPIC Summer Camp made him feel more ready and excited for back-to-school time. “It’s kind of like regular school, but more like activity time,’’ Faness told us. “You get to learn new things, build, run around outside, play games … It’s very fun!
Students at Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School