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We aim to address Summer Learning Loss and School Closures, while continuing efforts for 21st Century teaching and learning.

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We’ve all heard the term “flattening the curve” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s another curve that’s become too flat and poses a long-term threat to the well-being of the future of our country: the academic development of our youth. This threat is especially prevalent in communities with significant low-income households. Most U.S. public schools are likely to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, providing remote instruction as the alternative. 

Math—if you don’t use it, you lose it

Summer Learning Loss, particularly in mathematics, is a well-documented phenomenon. Research of seasonal patterns in student learning shows that achievement gaps in mathematics between students from high- and low-income groups grow while children are out of school. Middle to high socioeconomic student groups make learning gains over summer recess, while low socioeconomic student groups lose on average one-third of a grade level of skill knowledge.

Normally, students spend around 3 months away from school, giving rise to expected learning loss. Some kids are fortunate enough to attend summer camps or programs that can help curb any loss in learning. With that not being an option right now, the impact on the next school year will inevitably be worse as the time away from school has reached nearly 7 months now.

This is where the U.S. Challenge comes in! The U.S. Challenge partners have announced the following program. U.S. Challenge is kicking off its “Summer” phase of this to infuse a whole lot of fun with engaging activities. This 5-week phase works like an online math and robotics summer camp that is free and open to everyone. During this care-free phase, kids will be able to test out machines, build their own, and keep up their math learning all while having fun! This Summer phase will be followed by a 5-week Booster and then Fall and Spring programs to enable a blended learning between physical school, online classes, and home activities. 

The U.S. Challenge uses Polyup, a 3D environment where you can build anything you can imagine, from robots, to drones, to cities—and then make these creations move and interact. Each week, a set of fun math-related activities is released to play. Moreover students can also build their own activities and share with others.  In the Booster, Fall, and Spring a set of activities directly aligned with math common core standards is released.


What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

It is quite possible that we will be heading into the 2020-2021 school year remotely. If that happens, schools will need to ensure that devices are in all student’s hands and that they can connect to Wi-Fi. Districts should use the summer months to plan out the logistics in deployment and access. Schools will also need to address the notion of asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities for students. Pre-COVID schools were dependent on physical location and did not consider parents as an integral part of their children's education. COVID has provided the opportunity to transform rapidly into a blended and holistic learning environment that both teachers and the parents are an integral part of their children's education. Moreover, the learning does not stop in the physical boundaries of schools. It transcends online and becomes part of engaging home activities. We look forward to Family Events to introduce to parents and their children through the summer starting June 2020.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

My name is Casey Agena and I am the Director of Education for the Computational Thinking Alliance (CTA) (501 c3). We are looking to bring together different organizations and EdTech environments to move forward with new mathematical and computational thinking opportunities for all students. CTA works with many partners to build alliances with scalable impact across the US. US Challenge with six current partners and plan to grow to more than 20 partners is by far the most ambitious project CTA has been a part of. CTA handles the partnership aspect of the US Challenge.

It's been great to work with, November Learning, and on a number of 21st Century student learning opportunities and professional learning challenges for educators via the computational thinking environment  

Further, having DonorsChoose as a enabler of unique classroom opportunities, and providing access to resources via the has solidified a collective movement to make systemic impact on teaching and learning the concepts we all know are important. 

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I am located in Seattle, WA and my three children (ages 5, 5 and 7) have been impacted by COVID and school closures. CTA is located in California , and the work that began earlier this year to advance computational thinking + computer science + mathematics for all students came to a halt. Fortunately a number of organizations in each area committedto work together via CTA to address school closures, and the looming summer (summer learning loss) that can ultimately change K-12 education.

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Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hello Casey Agena 

With the deadline for the Ideas submissions approaching quickly on May 26, It might be helpful to update your submission with additional information such as the progress you have made so far, and how you are envisioning bringing together organizations for the summer learning. This will also ensure that all of your insights are captured for our evaluators.

Photo of Casey Agena

Thanks @Issac for the reminder - added a youtube video of our curated live streams of the

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