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Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

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Club Invention

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Review Synopsis: by afterschool program expert Leif Asper

As a science teacher, I would readily recommend the Bolder Builders module developed by Club Invention. This is a good building curriculum with simple and effective activities. In addition, the overarching theme of natural disaster reconstruction is a timely social topic. The fact that this curriculum comes bundled with all of the necessary materials means that this science unit is ready to go, right out of the box. The curriculum guide even includes essential forms like emergency contact information, behavior contracts, program evaluations, and sign in/out sheets. The only real limitation to this science unit is that it can be used only once. Not only are most of the included materials consumable, but the "User Agreement" requires that the curriculum, training manual, and training video be returned upon completion.
Full Review:
The Bolder Builders module developed by Club Invention is a complete afterschool program in a box. The module itself was written for five 90-minute sessions but includes the curriculum and materials, from glue and scissors to toilet paper tubes, for as many as eight 60-minute sessions. The content premise revolves around a clever theme to rebuild the town of Unlucky, recently damaged by a series of catastrophic disasters (an earthquake, a tsunami, and a hurricane). The rebuilding theme introduces students to simple and effective architectural content—designing tents, bridges, and earthquake-resistant structures—while at the same time presenting timely social issues. More important, because the materials to facilitate these simple and effective activities are bundled with the curriculum, this module is a complete and coherent science unit, easily presentable in an afterschool setting.

While the content and attention to detail in the Bolder Builders module are exemplary, the materials that come with this module allow for only as many as 24 participants, often assuming that children are working in pairs. As I puzzled over how teachers would figure out what additional supplies to buy for larger groups or for the next time through, I remembered the unusual "user agreement": —that you return everything (except the truly consumables) to the providers after completion. You don't buy these materials; really you rent them—and you need to be aware of that unusual aspect of this project as you decide whether to adopt it.