Superheroes of Learning

By Stephanie Wang – 11th Grade, Peters Township High School

When I imagine a superhero, I picture a courageous, caped individual with some sort of inhumane superpower.

However, Angel, the instructor for the the week-long camp Superheroes Assemble, is seeking to change that mindset. She wants kids to know that you can be a superhero in all sorts of different ways. For instance, you can be a superhero by just giving back to your neighborhood through public art or some other form of artistic expression. Our own unique talents are what makes each and every one of us a superhero.

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Eric with his Hulk-inspired superhero

But that doesn’t mean that the kids, ages 6-7, didn’t enjoy creating their own superhero costumes,  shields, and masks. They even made getaway vehicles in the form of hovercrafts powered by balloons and created their own secret messages using invisible ink. And of course, they designed and crafted their own superhero lairs, complete with LED lights and buildings as scenery.

I asked each participant what their favorite part of the camp had been so far, and each one had to think a long time before giving an answer– only showing how exciting the hands-on camp had been for the students.

They aren’t just superheroes though– they’re superheroes of learning!

Unlike learning in a classroom setting, learning takes on many different forms in Superheroes Assemble. Jenna, the program coordinator, explained: “People learn in many different ways: some people learn by listening, some people learn by writing, some people learn by doing. So we try to take all of those and put it into one, and it ensures that each kid, no matter how they learn, is able to learn.”

For example, the kids who learn by listening have their needs tailored to them, as almost every day, the kids hear from a local expert or artist. On Tuesday, July 14th, Alexa Pontzer from Toonseum spoke to the kids and helped them draw the backdrops for their superhero lairs. Other speakers included graduate students from Pitt and Dr. Nate Morehouse, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who talked to the kids about the “superhero powers” of animals, like the jumping abilities of jumping spiders. After the presentations, the students dressed up as animals and came up with their own speaking presentation.

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Mr. Tuffy teaching the kids about music

On Wednesday, July 15th, we also visited Boom Concepts!, an art gallery a few buildings down from Assemble, the location of the Superheroes Assemble camp. We met Mr. Tuffy, whose artist name is D.S. Kinsel, or Darrell Kinsel. Mr. Tuffy explained to the kids the different types of art, as well as his personal specialty of painting.

The kids enthusiastically answered his questions and discussed their own favorite form of art, whether it be painting, drawing, or singing.

On the goal of the camp, Jenna said: “We want to empower kids through making stuff… we want to help kids be more creative and use their imagination through STEAM.”

From what I’ve seen today, it’s clear that the Superheroes Assemble camp is able to achieve just that, in a way that’s innovative and fun for the participants. And even though these kids have learned that any ordinary talent is enough to be a superhero, there’s still an unanimous decision among these kids that the best superhero is definitely Batman (or Batgirl, if you ask any of the girls).


 

Stephanie Wang 2Stephanie Wang, a rising junior at Peters Township High School, is an avid writer and food enthusiast. Her past writing has been featured on The Almanac’s Youth Page, and she is currently the editor of Business Funnel.

 

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