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The Mars Rover Gives 826LA's Student Writers a Tech Boost

Writing about thermodynamics and aliens expands student imaginations.


What is life? That was one of the questions 826LA students tackled this summer in a workshop called "It's (Partially) Rocket Science." Most of our students come from low income backgrounds, but like most youth, they're hungry for adventure, to make mistakes without judgment, and to interact with peers and adult mentors who can answer easy and strange questions.

Students get to be themselves in our writing labs, or at least be comfortable enough to explore themselves. Through this workshop, which we were able to offer for free thanks to the support of Time Warner Cable—their Connect a Million Minds initiative also helped us develop the curriculum we used—826LA students engaged in writing, experimenting, observing, thinking, and had deep conversations about thermodynamics and aliens.

It might seem odd for an organization like 826LA to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—also known as STEM in the academic world. 826LA prefers the acronym STEAM—the "A" stands for "arts," one of our specialties and a critical element that experts argue supports and expands knowledge within the other four disciplines.

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Making Pint-Sized Authors in Los Angeles with 826

826LA's Executive Director Joel Arquillos gives some perspective on how to teach Latino students and dishes some project-based learning tips.

Former Bay Area high school social studies teacher Joel Arquillos dedicated his life to writing, but unlike so many others who moved to Los Angeles, he's not pitching screenplays. The 38 year-old Executive Director of writing and tutoring nonprofit 826LA wants to equip the next generation of L.A. kids with the writing chops they need to hit it big in Hollywood, or bring in the As at Harvard.

Arquillos manages two 826 offices in Los Angeles—one in Echo Park and one in Venice—and oversees the organization's savvy push toward running programs on school campuses. Last year 826LA taught writing to over 6,000 students, many of whom come from low-income, Latino backgrounds.

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The GOOD Education Series on Creativity: What Question Would You Ask?

Are youth being creatively engaged? And how do school programs in creative arts, music, and dance contribute to educational success? Tomorrow...

Are youth being creatively engaged? And how do school programs in creative arts, music, and dance contribute to educational success?

Tomorrow night, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the GOOD headquarters in L.A., we will be talking about creativity and we want to know what question you'd ask our panel of experts.

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