Earn an A+

(Family Features) Back-to-school season means it’s time to get back to the business of learning. This year you can ace your back-to-school shopping excursion with these time- and money-saving steps that can make getting the whole family ready for a new school year a breeze.

Start with a list.
Walking into the store without a list is an open invitation for impulse buys and forgotten items that end up costing you more time and money with a return trip. Create a thorough list by categorizing all the items you’ll shop for, such as supplies, electronics and clothing. If you want to take an extra-organized approach, try color coding items by the section of the store where you would expect to find them.

Set a budget.
Knowing what you can afford to spend ahead of time can save regret and returns after you shop. Calculate how much you’ll need to cover all the items your students truly need, then tack on some room for wants. One must-have is a high-quality backpack, like the High Sierra Access Backpack, which includes a dedicated storage area for your child’s laptop, among other features. If your total budgeted expenses exceed your available funds, consider browsing weekly circulars to keep your budget in check.

Explore your inventory.
It may be buried under a summer’s worth of knick-knacks, but digging out the supplies your child cast aside at the end of the last school year may be worth the effort. Items like scissors, rulers and protractors may not need to be replaced every year if they’re still in working condition. Assess what items you have that can be reused and those that need to be replaced for the new school year.

Cut extra stops.
Dashing all over town to find all the items on your supply list is not only time-consuming, it’s unnecessary. At stores like Office Depot and OfficeMax, you can find all the academic tools and supplies your student needs to head back to the classroom. What’s more, a store that specializes in school supplies will have a broad selection and ample stock of the essentials.

Try online shopping.
When you know exactly what you need, shopping online is a great time-saving solution. Online shopping makes it incredibly simple to keep tabs on your budget before you make purchases and easily keep track of the items in your shopping cart. If you need to hand-select a few items in person, you can always take advantage of a “buy online, pick-up in store” option. This service lets you do your shopping from home with just a quick stop in-store to pick-up your purchases.

Buy in bulk.
It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to trim your spending, but if you can swing it, go ahead and buy extra items that you’ll likely need to replace mid-year. The sale prices during the back-to-school season aren’t likely to repeat during the school year, so in the long run you’ll save money and avoid a last-minute shopping trip on a busy school night in the future. Items like Stellar fashion notebooks, which give note-taking a fashionable twist, are great to have on hand throughout the school year.

Research specials and promotions.
For many stores, the back-to-school shopping season is second only to the holidays. This means you can expect widespread sales, promotions and special deals, such as “deals as low as a penny.” Some states also offer tax-free holidays near the beginning of the school year, which are honored at multiple retailers and generally restricted to school-related purchases like clothing, supplies and some technology.

Weigh quality vs. quantity.
When you have a lengthy list of items to purchase for each child, it can be tempting to cut corners and skimp on spending. In some cases, being cost-efficient is smart, but do your research beforehand to avoid selecting items based solely on price. Value and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand and if you buy an item that falls apart or breaks down quickly, you may end up spending more to replace the items later. While it may be simpler for students to use printers and other machines at school, an all-in-one Epson Expression EcoTank Wireless Printer at home can be a convenient solution when late-night homework is bearing down.

Make dollars do double duty.
While most families expect to spend a sizable amount on back-to-school purchases (nearly $700, according to a 2016 survey by the National Retail Federation), making that money go a little further can soften the blow. You can help improve education in your community by shopping at stores that give a percentage of proceeds back to local schools. Programs vary; in some cases, you can even designate proceeds to the school district of your choice.

Take more notes on smart back-to-school shopping ideas and deals at officedepot.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Office Depot

Students Prosper from STEM Education

(Family Features) Education is particularly critical for today’s students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as the number of jobs with an emphasis in STEM is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years, according to the National Science and Math Initiative.

With the right funding, schools across the country are putting an emphasis on STEM education and looking for new ways to make a difference in the lives of their students and their communities. For Rochelle Middle School in Rochelle, Illinois, a $25,000 grant from the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, enabled the school to enhance its science curriculum by exposing students to STEM-related career opportunities and preparing students for the workforce. The program included the purchase of a 3D printer to introduce students to the technology and bring their designs and ideas to life.

Shortly after the program began, the students learned about a local farmer who lost his arm in an accident while working in the field and they began working on a program to use the 3D printer to build a fully-functioning prosthesis for him.   

Other Americas Farmers Grow Rural Education grants have helped schools expand their science curriculum by building greenhouses, continuing a remote-operated-vehicle science program, developing a livestock learning laboratory on a high school campus and others.

“STEM education is a vital foundation for the future of students and communities,” said Al Mitchell, Monsanto Fund president. “With the support of local farmers, we are proud to provide resources to engage and excite students in their STEM educations, and help them understand practical applications of their studies.”

Since starting the program, Rochelle Middle School’s parents and teachers have noticed a change in students, as they seem more engaged and excited to learn. Many even stay after school for an independent study course with their science teacher.

“The grant helped enhance our STEM offering to students and show them what their futures could hold,” said Vic Worthington, Rochelle Middle School science instructor. “In middle school, it’s easy for these students to go to school each day, but not understand the full picture of possibilities of their futures. Through this program, schools are able to put possibilities in front of students they couldn’t have previously dreamed of.”

The Grow Rural Education program is seeking nominations from farmers through April 1, 2017, to help provide rural public schools with funding for STEM projects. Since the program began partnering with farmers in 2011, more than $11 million has been awarded to help rural schools in need. To learn more about the program or how farmers can nominate a school near them, visit GrowRuralEducation.com.

Monsanto Fund

New (School) Year, New You

(Family Features) Forget Jan. 1. Parents know the real new year begins when you can smell the fresh pink erasers and hear the clatter of brand new pencils on still-smooth notebook covers.

Even if you don’t have kids in school, the end of summer and the beginning of fall is a great time to reassess, realign, hit the restart button and make resolutions that will help carry your family smoothly through until next summer – or at least until the holidays.

Here are some tips from parents about resolutions they’ve made for the coming school year:

Learn to love mornings
My Life and Kids blogger Anna Luther said she used to hate mornings.

“It was a disaster,” she said. “There was a lot of yelling, a lot of missing socks, a lot of arguments about eating a good breakfast – it was just not the way to start a productive, happy day.”

Luther decided to turn the first – and worst – hour of her day into one of the best by waking up earlier, exercising and turning on music.

Luther also changed the way she looked at breakfast.

“It doesn’t have to be from scratch,” she said, “but it does have to have protein – and be fast. We love frozen breakfast burritos, for example.”

Empower the kids
Luther said that another thing that made mornings exhausting was that she tried to do everything herself, from finding socks and brushing hair to heating up healthy breakfasts.

But kids are eager to help, she said. Just like adults, they feel empowered when they can do things for themselves.

Luther decided to empower her kids and simplify her life at the same time by creating “Get Ready Buckets,” which hold everything they need to get moving in the morning, from hairbrushes to socks.

That same message of empowerment can simplify and improve other stressful times of day. Do the kids walk in the door hungry and cranky and leave you feeling the same way? Stock the freezer with hearty snacks, such as El Monterey Taquitos, that kids can heat up on their own.

Appreciate others
Blogger Kristyn Merkley of Lil’ Luna, has resolved to show the teachers in her life how much she and her family appreciate them.

“Our teachers put so much time and effort into their jobs,” Merkley said, “and we’re so grateful for that.”

While she usually gives teachers a gift card at the end of the year, she doesn’t wait until then to send notes and emails with a simple, “Thank you.” She also makes sure to say thanks in person – and in front of her kids.

Make fun a priority
There are plenty of must-dos on your list every day, but is fun one of them? Merkley said it should be, and she’s making family fun a resolution this school year. She collects activities on her blog that kids and adults can do together and plans family fun nights around them.

“When we laugh and make things and learn things together,” she said, “we’re making memories. I want my kids to remember their childhoods as more than just getting to school on time and cleaning their rooms.”

Be a team
Kristy Denney, of the Boys Ahoy blog, is raising three wild boys, as she calls them. But even the wildest of kids wants to know that you’re on their team – and they’re on yours. Denney and her husband, Brett, chose a family motto for the school year so that everyone on their family team knows what they’re working toward.

As their motto, the Denneys chose, “Work hard and be nice.” It’s simple, succinct and sums up what they want for their family.

Fuel up with real food
Kids have to eat, and most insist on eating three or more times a day. Denney said she loves to cook from scratch, but she doesn’t want time in the kitchen to keep her away from her family. So, this year, she’s resolving to focus on what’s important: real ingredients.

“Sometimes I’ll buy the ingredients myself to cook from scratch and sometimes I’ll look for foods I recognize on the label,” she said. “When I pick up El Monterey Signature Burritos, I see ingredients like fresh-baked tortillas, real cheddar cheese – foods I would buy anyway for my family, so I feel great about that.”

Make snacks work hard
Jess Kielman, who writes the blog Mom 4 Real, said that snacking can sometimes be a problem in her house. Kids (and adults) sometimes snack because they’re bored – or just out of habit, so she’s reining in snack time and making snacks work just as hard as meals.

“Protein and real food – that’s what I’m going to look for in afternoon snacks,” she said. “Something that fills the kids up and gets them ready to get back out the door and play, or buckle down and do their homework.”

Cheer on #momwins
Kielman said that this year her resolution is to start giving herself a little more credit for her “mom wins,” big or small.

“Checking off every last thing on my spring cleaning checklist is a win, for sure,” she said, “but so is a good, smooth morning with my family. So is a sit-down dinner that didn’t stress me out. So is feeling good about what we’re eating. So is every little hug. Those are all #momwins, and I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for every one.”

For more breakfast, snack and dinner ideas to help you keep your family resolutions, visit ElMonterey.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating)

El Monterey

What to Do?

By Kendall Vogts

What to do? As a teacher, enjoying his or her summer break, that seems to be a question that comes up often and is usually followed by a smile or smirk and glazed over eyes as they wander off into the world of beautiful, student-free possibilities.

From the months of August through May, teachers are busy with everything school, but in June and July, things are different!

Now, as an auntie of young and school-aged children, I understand perfectly, have seen and have experienced summer activities for children. The goal is to keep the kids busy with fun, adventurous, silly, outdoorsy, educational and time-consuming activities. This list might include trips to the pool, the zoo, children’s museums or the park.

Parents or caretakers plan crafts like painting, sidewalk chalk and making your own silly putty. There might even be that carpooling parent, like my oldest sister, who spends time shuttling kids to library time, swimming lessons, dance lessons and gymnastics.

Needless to say, painting a picture of what students do during summer break could be pretty easy.

But what about the educators? What do we do? For some non-educators, I think they picture us sleeping in, shopping, eating out and watching TV. While those things might happen a smidge of the time, there are many other things we enjoy doing or must do in order to prepare for the next school year.

To start out, on our time off, we travel! We plan vacations with our loved ones, and we let loose a bit. My husband and I will be heading to Kansas City to Schlitterbahn with friends and will take an anniversary vacation. We also hop in the car and visit our family members. By the time summer is over, I will have visited my oldest sister and her family in Minnesota. I will have driven south to Oklahoma to visit my middle sister’s family. And I will have made it to my hometown to see all of the family that live there.

Also, we work on our homes. During the school year, there is a lot of time spent away from our houses. I don’t think people realize this, but most days, I spend more time at school than I do my own home! Sometimes, educators are lucky just to make supper for our families and spend a couple hours with them before we head to bed, only to start the routine over again.

So during the summer, we garden, paint walls, re-arrange furniture, finally complete that Pinterest craft we’ve had our eyes on, de-clutter and enjoy being able to live in our own space and not our classrooms.

Next, we prepare for the next school year. While at the beginning of our summer vacation, we want to be as far away from anything school related as possible; however, we eventually have to bite the bullet in order to be fully ready for our next round of kids. We meet with our partner teachers to plan lessons, we set up our classrooms, we copy notes and forms that each student will need, number our books, set up our progress monitoring tools and so much more.

Finally, this year especially and in the state of Kansas, teachers on their summer vacations have worried about their jobs and the future of education. Teaching is my and my husband’s job. We need our jobs to pay off student debt (which will increase because to make gains in this profession, you must continue your education), to pay for our cars, insurance, our new home and the other means by which we live.

I can see how, looking from an outsider’s perspective could be considered selfish. “They are only teaching for the money.” At that I might give a chuckle because of the amount on the paystub I get each month.

But the questions remain: Didn’t I get into education for the kids? To teach them English, as well as how to be contributing, awesome members of society? And the answer to all those question is yes! And that is why as teachers during this summer vacation we are concerned about the future of education in the State of Kansas. We are required to do so much, with students who may or may not even what to be there, with so, so little in the way of support and supplies. Public education is important. School is the safest, most consistent place for a majority of students out there.

Parents and guardians, think about those things while our kids and teachers are on summer vacation.

Regardless of the role — parent, student, or educator — summer vacation is a special time. It gives everyone the opportunity to relax, decompress, make memories and prepare for the upcoming school year.

As you are helping your student get ready for 2016-17 school session, remember their teachers. Their summers are spent doing much more than wondering, “What to do?”.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

Business professionals help Gardiner students ‘Read to Succeed’

Diane Iseman, Women’s United volunteer, reads with a Gardiner Elementary third-grade student.
Diane Iseman, Women’s United volunteer, reads with a Gardiner Elementary third-grade student.

Twenty-three professional women are taking time out of their busy schedules each week to help Gardiner Elementary third-grade students improve their reading skills. Members of United Way’s Women’s United, The Pando Initiative and First Wesleyan Church volunteer their time to work one-on-one with students to help them become better readers and to also be role models.

The volunteer program began as part of United Way’s Women United “Read to Succeed” program. The group’s focus this year is early childhood literacy. Studies have shown that having a student read at grade level by the end of third grade has a great impact on a student’s success in school and in life. Once the United Way’s Women United program began, other community groups joined the program.

The volunteers received specialized training from Gardiner staff on what to look for when a student reads aloud to them.

“They are not just listening to them read, they are listening to identify specific items where a child has deficits and coaches them so we can give them the proper support to succeed,” said Gardiner principal Heather Schwartz.

“We can see that it’s making a difference. Our students’ reading scores are going up,” Schwartz said. “We cannot express how much we appreciate their efforts.”

Price-Harris marks 25 years of Bridge to Bridge run

Price-Harris students start the 25th annual Bridge to Bridge Walk/Run.
Price-Harris students start the 25th annual Bridge to Bridge Walk/Run.

Students at Price-Harris took part in a yearly tradition that promotes wellness and fun. The students took part in the one-mile Bridge to Bridge Walk/Run, which takes place between a foot bridge and a street bridge on the property.

It started 25 years ago by Molly Lavacek to create an event to tie into the Olympics. The annual tradition not only promotes wellness, but honors two students who passed away while they were attending Price-Harris. Drawings representing the two students are on the sleeves of the t-shirts worn by the students and staff.

The students look forward to the race each year and are very excited when they cross the finish line.

Hadley students take off to wrap up Flying Challenge

A Hadley Middle School student smiles after riding in a plane to wrap up the Airbus Flying Challenge for the school year.
A Hadley Middle School student smiles after riding in a plane to wrap up the Airbus Flying Challenge for the school year.

Sixty students from Hadley Middle School got a birds-eye view of Wichita to wrap up its year-long Airbus Flying Challenge, a partnership between Hadley, Airbus, the United Way, the Pando Initiative and Wichita State University. The Airbus Flying Challenge matched Hadley students with mentors from Airbus. The students and their mentors have been meeting throughout the year. The final event was taking students up in an airplane, provided by Kansas State University-Salina. It was the first time many of the students had flown.

The partnership encouraged students to learn about careers in aviation and engineering and to see how math, technology, science and engineering can be used every day. But for many students, it was also an opportunity just to talk with a caring adult.

This is the fourth year for the Airbus Flying Challenge.

Southeast seniors say goodbye to their old school

Southeast principal Lori Doyle talks with students during the Senior Breakfast.
Southeast principal Lori Doyle talks with students during the Senior Breakfast.

It was a bittersweet day for seniors at Southeast High School. As the more than 300 soon-to-be graduates gathered together during the Senior Breakfast, they reflected on their future, but also the past as the last class to finish in the current Southeast building.  The new school at Pawnee and 127th St. East is scheduled to open in August.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to close out this school. There is a lot of history in these walls,” said senior Tanner Schartz. “I believe we did the school justice by representing the senior class well.”

“It’s crazy to think that this is the last time to walk these hallways,” said senior Ira Hines. “It’s an honor to be the last senior class here, but I know the other classes are excited to be in the new school.”

“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people here at Southeast and I’ve had awesome teachers and that’s what I’ll walk away with. We have that Southeast bond that won’t change,” Hines said.

“The seniors are humbled to be the last senior class here, but they are also excited for their friends to be in the new building,” said principal Lori Doyle.

“We will continue the traditions of Southeast to the new site, and we’ll also start new traditions and create new memories,” she said.

The current Southeast building will become the WPS Administrative Center.

Cosmosphere strengthens focus on education

COSMOSPHERE CAMPS0003The Cosmosphere, the Hutchinson, Kan.-based space center and museum, has embarked on a multi-faceted journey of revitalization, with a large amount of the effort focusing on more advanced educational programming. New curriculum that focuses on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and college and career readiness helps teachers and students connect the dots between theory and application.

The Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere’s Hall of Space Museum, as many are aware, houses the largest combined collection of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world. Whereas the Cosmosphere’s educational programs may be less widely known, the newly expanded science-based education efforts tie perfectly into the national push for better science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and career development. The initiative also addresses issues at the state level, providing relevant learning content for school districts strapped by shortages of math and science teachers and facing extremely tight budgets.

“We know times are tough for schools, and they have to make hard decisions about how to spend their money,” says Tracey Tomme, the Cosmosphere’s Vice President of Education. “As we design our new programs, we are making sure they are meeting the standards schools need. For instance, STEM skills are being emphasized heavily in schools. While literacy and math are key to every child’s future, our programs are meeting all of these core areas along with history, communications and workplace skills. The best way to describe it is that we are no longer just a field trip. We are providing standards-aligned, career-focused, curricular packages that include a culminating event at the Cosmosphere.”  

Tomme joined the Cosmosphere in August of 2014, with the role of driving the institution’s commitment to STEM education initiatives and positioning the Cosmosphere as a leader in applied science education. She previously served as President/CEO of the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science Education (CCESSE), the company responsible for running the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado. In that position, she helped turn the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado into one of the region’s premier providers of STEM educational outreach.

The Cosmosphere currently serves approximately 12,000 students each year. With its new programs those numbers are likely to increase to 15,000 to 20,000 or more per year. Tomme said Cosmosphere representatives have visited with many school districts around the area, and it is clear they want to provide the best programs possible for their students. 

 “We are developing solid programs that schools can truly appreciate as we partner to serve the students and teachers of Kansas and our surrounding states,” Tomme said.

The Cosmosphere’s learning experiences include:

  • Known worldwide, Cosmosphere Camps, for students entering second grade through high school, are dedicated to inspiring explorers of all ages using STEM principles and building leadership and teamwork skills. Camps include Space 101-501, where campers train like astronauts using methods employed by NASA; Mars Academy, Forces of Flight, Starship Earth, Lunar Base and Alien Adventure. There are also custom-designed camps for school groups as well as Merits of Space for Boy Scouts from across the country.
  • The Cosmosphere takes its education programs direct to students through school visits and live webcasts.
  • The Cosmosphere’s professional staff trains, educates and entertains Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, and 4-H participants of all ages. From liquid nitrogen ice cream to hands-on experiments, the Cosmosphere inspires and motivates Scouts. Merit badges and patches are available, and all participants receive a customized Cosmosphere patch.
  • The new Cosmosphere curriculum-based packages are grade-level aligned from pre-K through 12th grade. These packages include educator professional development and co-curricular lessons. Every package includes science, math, an historical focus, literature piece, and an engineering design challenge.

Over the years, the Cosmosphere’s education experiences and space camps have provided a learning spark and springboard for many people now working science or high-tech related jobs. A few notable alumni include Amanda Premer, Operations Support Officer, Johnson Space Center (JSC); Theresa Perks, Mission Controller, JSC;  Paul Dees, Engineer, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center; and Kate Becker, Satellite Data and Information Service Office of International Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The new focus in many of the Cosmosphere educational experiences involves translating learning into group collaboration, problem-solving and risk/reward trials. They are cross-curricular, integrating not only science and math but communications/journalism skills, history and other subjects, while also emphasizing life skills and critical thinking.

“Reading about a nuclear crisis or a problem with a crew of astronauts trying to get back to Earth is one thing,” Tomme said, “but working together to address all aspects of a situation and formulate and manage a solution, really makes students think and learn in a way that energizes and inspires them.”

Tomme also explained how experiencing failure and overcoming it – as has happened many times in space exploration – is a key learning that participants take away from the Cosmosphere’s educational programs.

To better position itself for the future and more accurately reflect its offerings, the Cosmosphere recently introduced refreshed branding that highlights its efforts to provide more services to schools and learners of all ages. The positioning includes a new tagline: International SciEd Center and Space Museum. Tomme said the Cosmosphere strives to increase outreach not just internationally but locally as well as to increase the diversity of the participants in its educational programs for schools, camps and after-school programs. 

Toward that goal, the center is keeping its prices as low as possible while adding programs that are accessible through scholarships for underrepresented groups. The Cosmosphere has seen significant enthusiasm for its All Girls Physics of Flight camps, Boys and Girls Club programs and rural school outreach initiatives. 

The Cosmosphere is seeking additional funds and engaging with corporate sponsors to continue and expand these enhanced STEM-based, experiential learning experiences for kids nationwide and internationally. They are able and willing to match those who want to provide quality educational experiences for students in their region to the schools who are seeking support. General funding support for the education programs also allows the Cosmosphere to keep the price point as low as possible.

That expanded access and the overall new focus for the Cosmosphere builds on the center’s established reputation and world-recognized museum of space history and allows it to touch and inspire youth in entirely new ways.

“Our artifacts collection is truly amazing,” Tomme said. “It should be used as a tourist attraction but also as a learning tool for the next generation. The programs we are creating and delivering are being watched closely by other museums and institutions.  We are setting a new standard for engaging young minds in historical events that will inspire them to think big.”

Youth Entrepreneurs Students Earn Nearly $150,000 at Annual Market Days

Wichita Market Days - 5Youth Entrepreneurs (YE), which prides itself on providing an entrepreneurial education through hands-on learning, recently held its Market Days event, an initiative providing students the opportunity to run a mini business for a day and earn real profit. Wichita’s Market Days started on Oct. 12 at East High School and concluded on Nov. 13 at Heights High School, visiting 13 schools in between. Forty-one high schools in Kansas and Missouri took part in this year’s events, garnering the following results:

  • Total sales: $147,260
  • Total profit: $60,193
  • Average Sales: $425
  • Average profit: $142
  • Average ROI: 94%
  • Max revenue: $3,573
  • Max profit: $3,073

Wichita Market Days - 2Each Market Day is a highlight for the students participating in the YE program. To prepare, students create a small-scale business plan, then take part in Wholesale Field Trips to a variety of businesses, including:

  • Carlson Products
  • McGinty Machine
  • Case New Holland
  • Valley Floral
  • Great Plains Industries (GPI)
  • In the Bag Cleaners
  • Chance Rides
  • Powder Tech
  • Wichita Market Days – 3Farkel
  • Millinium
  • Star Lumber
  • Balco
  • PlanetSub
  • Abode Venue
  • Mooyah

Wichita Market Days - 1Each field trip gives students the opportunity to witness manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers’ day-to-day operations. Students bid on venture capital provided by YE to purchase goods from wholesalers on their field trips. They then return to school and sell the purchased goods to fellow classmates at school. Once the initial investment from YE is returned, the students are allowed to keep their profits.

“Market Days provide students the hands-on opportunity to transform a business idea at every stage, from bidding for capital from their teacher or classroom judges, to purchasing at the Wholesale Field Trip to execution on Market Day,” said Phoebe Bachura, Youth Entrepreneurs executive director. “This year’s results speak for themselves. With an average ROI of 94 percent across the Market Days, students not only saw their hard work pay off, they also gained experience that will better equip them for future academic and career success.”

In addition to Market Days, Youth Entrepreneurs’ students participate in classroom competitions and work with community business leaders to enhance their business skills for future endeavors, including entrepreneurship and higher education. The goal of the curriculum is to stimulate economic thinking skills, encourage intelligent risk taking, provide practical business expertise, and instill independence and personal responsibility.

To continue the story, follow Youth Entrepreneurs on Facebook and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/youthentrepreneursKansasandMissouri and @YEKansas

West health science students have lesson in 3D printing

West High engineering teacher James Pugh shows health science students how to design a bone in the CAD program that was printed on a 3D printer.
West High engineering teacher James Pugh shows health science students how to design a bone in the CAD program that was printed on a 3D printer.

Students in West High School’s health science class got a hands-on lesson on how 3D printers can help in the medical field. Health science teacher Melody Robinson and engineering teacher James Pugh worked together for a unique cross-curricular project.

The students learned about the skeletal system and how 3D printers are being used to make prosthetics for children and animals. The health science students spent a day in Pugh’s engineering class learning to design their own plastic bone in a CAD program. The design was printed on a 3D printer with their name and a hole for a key ring.

“This is a cool way to enable students to see the connection between Health and Bioengineering. We want to expose them to a wide-open career field,” said Robinson.

“It’s interesting that you can make items that can help people with a 3D printer,” said Jonathan Fonseca, junior at West. “I like how they want us to learn new things.”

Robinson and Pugh plan to team up for future class projects.

Gifts that give back

(Family Features) This holiday season, shoppers can put children first by purchasing gifts that help save and protect children around the world. Through gifts that give back and unique handcrafted items, gift-givers can help children around the world.

The newest offering is UNICEF Kid Power, which allows kids to get active and save lives. With the world’s first wearable-for-good™, available at Target this holiday season in blue, orange and two special “Star Wars: Force for Change” editions in black and white, kids go on missions to learn about new cultures and earn points. Points unlock funding from partners, parents and fans, and funds are used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. UNICEF Kid Power is made possible through the generous support of Disney, “Star Wars: Force for Change” and Target.

Through a partnership with NOVICA, UNICEF Market offers thousands of handcrafted items that support artisans in countries where UNICEF works. From jewelry to home accents and accessories, each item purchased benefits programs that provide children with basic necessities such as lifesaving nutrition, medicine, education, clean water, emergency relief and more.

Holiday shoppers can also give UNICEF Inspired Gifts, actual life-changing and lifesaving items that can be purchased in honor of a loved one and go directly to help children in need in developing countries. Among the gift options are: blankets; a Super Hero Pack that provides vaccines and mosquito nets; and a Therapeutic Food gift – a “miracle food”, which provides nourishment to 10 malnourished children.

Additional holiday gifts that give back through UNICEF partners include:

IKEA Soft Toys for Education: For every IKEA Soft Toy or children’s book sold in IKEA stores through December 26, 2015, the IKEA Foundation will donate 1 euro (approximately $1.12) to UNICEF and Save the Children’s education projects. This year’s collection features one-of-a-kind soft toys designed by children around the world. Children around the U.S. can also enter the IKEA drawing competition for a chance to design their very own dream toy.

Holiday greeting cards: The winning card in the annual Pier 1 Imports® and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF greeting card contest will be sold exclusively at Pier 1 Imports stores nationwide and on pier1.com during the 2015 holiday season with 100 percent of sales at Pier 1 Imports going to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In addition, boxed holiday cards can be purchased in the UNICEF Market and through Pier 1 Imports, IKEA, Barnes and Noble, and select Hallmark Gold Crown stores, also with 100 percent of the purchase price of cards purchased at Pier 1 Imports and IKEA stores going directly to support UNICEF programs.

H&M: H&M customers can support UNICEF to provide quality education to children living in Myanmar by picking up a special ‘Gift that Gives Back’ gift card at any H&M store from November 5 to December 31. The H&M Conscious Foundation will donate 5% of the total amount uploaded to each gift card.

Be K.I.N.D.: With a contribution of $65, UNICEF can provide a desk and bench for two students through MSNBC’s K.I.N.D.: Kids in Need of Desks. Another option, benefitting girls in Malawi, is a $177 scholarship donation that delivers one year of education, including tuition, room and board, text books, transportation, a school uniform and learning supplies.

Travel for change: Through UNICEF’s Change for Good program on American Airlines, travelers visiting their loved ones this holiday season on select American Airlines international flights can use their spare change to help support UNICEF’s work. For Delta travelers, SkyMiles members can donate their unused frequent flyers miles to the organization for travel in support of lifesaving work for children. To donate miles, visit delta.com/skywish .


Be a life-long learner


This is an exciting time of the year. Or, it is a terrifying and dreadful time of the year.

It’s all about perspective. Some are excited to for school to be starting up again, while others hate it.

Usually, those who hate it are students. Older students. High school students.

Elementary students are usually excited because they get to see their friends again and meet their new teachers and get a bunch of cool gear to start the school year off right.

Sure, high school students might get all of that as well, but it isn’t as high of a priority. And in an age of social media, they can Facebook, Tweet and Snapchat their friends whenever they want, so though school may be more of a socialize venture for them, they can still socialize in the summer without even having to step foot into their buildings of education.

For me personally, I am always excited, if not a little nervous, about August rolling around.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am also a teacher, and my lovely new wife is a teacher as well.

It can be hectic trying to get plans ready, classrooms set up and simply into the right mindset to teach again.

However, I enjoy it. I consider myself a life-long learner. I enjoy acquiring new skills and knowledge, and I try to impart that upon my own students.

When I think about it, I haven’t been out of school since I first started. There might have been a year in there when I was running a weekly newspaper in central Kansas. This was between the completion of my bachelor’s degree from the esteemed Wichita State University and my deciding to become a teacher by pursing my credentials and master’s degree from Fort Hays State University. That span of time hardly counts, right?

I firmly believe education is important for our society. That doesn’t mean everyone should earn a four-year degree or a master’s degree. Maybe it means securing a vocational certification or getting an associate’s degree.

It all comes down to where a person wants to see his or her life go. There is no one right answer. It is an individual decision.

The key is know what you want and then taking the appropriate steps to achieve it.

Never stop learning. Seize every opportunity to better yourself and your mind. And, most importantly, embrace back-to-school time.

— Todd Vogts, publisher

Students in SCOPE program explore arts and sciences

Students in the SCOPE program make brownies in a cooking class.
Students in the SCOPE program make brownies in a cooking class.

Students had an opportunity to do hands-on projects with science, math and art in the SCOPE summer program. Students had many different classes to choose from including rocketry, video production, origami, French, cooking, digital photography, robotics, animation, painting, drawing and Pinterest.

High school students from North and East volunteered to help with the classes.

SCOPE, which stands for Summer Curriculum Opportunities for Personal Expression, is a summer program designed to provide fun and exciting educational opportunities for identified gifted students from the Wichita Public Schools and outlying districts.