On October 26, Beyond School Bells hosted its fifth annual Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Stakeholder’s Summit. Approximately 60 stakeholders representing various interests and perspectives attended this half-day event, which was held in Nebraska Children’s Lincoln offices.
The summit opened with presentations on the current state of ELO in Nebraska, emerging trends, innovations, and new opportunities. Highlights from this portion of the summit included presentations on partnerships between ELO programs and business and industry by BSB’s Director of Partnerships Anna Wishart and on aquaponics by Greg Fripp from the Omaha-based nonprofit Whispering Roots. Greg’s talk illustrated how aquaponics can be used in ELO programs to make science, technology, and math engaging and fun and can serve as a source of innovation for bridging formal, informal, and community-based education.
The second half of the summit included table discussions focusing on how we can build new partnerships to support ELOs at the state and community level. The table discussions were captured on a brainstorming sheet that guided discussion in a manner that invites creativity and keeps the conversation on track to yield practical insights. Beyond School Bells will be mining the information collected on these brainstorming sheets to inform our partnership work as we move into 2018.
Finally, summit attendees were given an opportunity to explore one of Beyond School Bells’ Think, Make, Create (TMC) Labs – the mobile maker spaces we have been developing to support rural ELO programs. Beyond School Bells also unveiled a new video showcasing the TMC Labs:
Thanks to all who came to participate in this productive event. The suggestions and insights we gathered will help guide Beyond School Bells’ work in the year to come.