What does it mean to build a bridge? According to the book, Javier Builds a Bridge, building a bridge can mean more than the physical, literal bridge. "Bridging the gap" is an educational catch phrase, but what does it mean? The achievement gap is the space between high and low income students. Afterschool Alliance's study, America After 3PM shows that afterschool can help narrow that gap.
Bridges bring people together, and can also connect them, bringing a person from one place to another. We cross that bridge when we get to it, and maybe burn the bridge behind us. Things in our past are water under the bridge. We mention bridges when we talk about making a change.
Water is often depicted as turbulent and difficult, and bridges are the safe crossing. Sometimes, childhood can be a turbulent time. Family/home time and school are often the opposite sides of a chasm.. Having a safe place to go afterschool can give students a bridge between the school day and home. Bringing families into our school world can further bridge those sides. Like Javier, in Javier Builds a Bridge, working together, building something physical, playing and laughing can bring families a sense of connection, as well as connect those families to educators.
High Desert Leapin' Lizards holds a culminating event for each of our STEAM units, but the To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges was a special one, not just for the STEAM component, but for the metaphorical bridges we were able to cross. At the event, I watch hesitant parents slowly relax, and join their student in building with blocks, 3x5 cards, marshmallows and spaghetti, and graham crackers and icing. As they left, with their plates, I saw big smiles and student bragged proudly that they built the house/tower/bridge, and that their parent/grandparent/sibling helped.
As we build our Mini-Golf installations for our next unit, and head toward our next culminating event, which will be our Lights on Afterschool event, we hope that we can all further construct solid bridges that can keep us all together!