ilead exploration

8th Grade Promotion


Congratulations to our promoting 8th grade learners! Help us celebrate these learners by watching this video acknowledging each learner’s hard work.

8th Grade Promotion Video

Math Intervention

Math Intervention

The beginning and end of the school year are common times for families to begin wondering if their learners need some intervention or extra support. If you are concerned by your learner’s end-of-year MAP scores or progress made this year, please speak with your EF about fun supports you can explore over the summer break. This presentation (PowerPoint here) from the school’s intervention coordinator explores the basics of math intervention. Look for more support and information to be rolled out at the start of next year.

MAP Testing – Finish Strong!


We are on the home stretch for the end of the school year with this final week to finish strong! Congratulations to all our iLEAD learners who have completed their Growth MAP assessments in both subjects of math and reading. Be encouraged as you review your child’s MAP results, and consider this information as a tool to start your curriculum planning for the fall. Please speak with your EF and determine ways that you can best support your learner and identify areas of growth that you can celebrate!

Student Poster Design Contest Winners: Hope Hemsley and Mara

Art Studio Virtual Tour

In March, we announced the student design poster contest for A Spark in Nothing. We are excited to share the news that iLEAD Exploration learners Hope Hemsley and Mara were announced as co-winners! As a result of their artistic creativity, they were invited to the premiere of the movie, which was directed by former iLEAD graduate Griffin Loch. Take a look at the photos below to see Hope’s and Mara’s designs and the fun event they attended.

Hope Griffin poster design Poster Design Contest

iLEAD Exploration College Advisor Launches Virtual College Fair for Homeschoolers

College Fair for Homeschoolers

By Michael Niehoff
Education Content Coordinator, iLEAD Schools

Cal Alt College Fair logo

On May 12, 70 colleges and universities pitched programs and opportunities to over 500 homeschool and alternative education learners who don’t traditionally have access to college fair events. iLEAD Exploration college advisor Laura Kazan, along with a team of like-minded colleagues across multiple schools, worked together to make this unique event possible.

“We are focused on equity and access,” Kazan said. “This coalition of school partners represents students who wouldn’t have access to college reps at their schools because they don’t attend a brick-and-mortar school.”

Kazan was joined by iLEAD Exploration colleague Heather Facarotta and several others representing various charter schools and alternative education entities from around the state. Among them were Mataya Olson from Compass Charter Schools, Dana Blood from the Gorman Learning Charter Network, Jami Riley from Sky Mountain Charter School and Traci King and Erin Havrilesk from Sage Oak Charter Schools.

“The collaboration was amazing,” Kazan said. “This was significant because six of us came together representing five different alternative education organizations.”

This team began planning this event in September, when the team reached out to hundreds of colleges and universities in California and beyond. Kazan said the team benefited from several key groups.

The first was the Regional Admissions Counselors of California, or RACC for short, who are college representatives who live and work in California but represent out-of-state colleges. Second was Colleges That Change Lives, a nonprofit coalition of 40 colleges that have a reputation for greatly impacting their students’ lives. Another was the Western Undergraduate Exchange, or WUE, representing an agreement between 16 member states and territories, through which over 160 participating public colleges and universities provide steep nonresident tuition savings. Through WUE, according to Kazan, eligible students can choose from hundreds of undergraduate programs outside their home states and pay no more than 150 percent of that institution’s resident tuition rate.

These key groups became instrumental in making up a large part of the 70 colleges and universities that participated, according to Kazan. She said although they invited many of the prestigious and better-known colleges in California and around the country, that’s not necessarily indicative of who participated.

“We would not have had such a successful event without these key groups,” Kazan said. “If it’s a college that wants to recruit our nontraditional learners, they are more likely to come.”

Learners were invited via email and learned more through this promotional video. Ultimately, the event was open to any students, especially in the homeschool and alternative education communities, who wanted to attend.

Attendees learned about colleges and universities through this Cal Alt College Fair Airtable. Participants could choose at least four sessions, and the college representatives presented short info sessions on the hour and half hour.

Although the format was inspired by the pandemic, Kazan sees it as a great long-term option to accommodate interested learners and families across the state.

“If access and outreach are the goals, then this works for our community,” Kazan said.

Kazan and her team plan to continue and expand the virtual Cal Alt College Fair and to launch monthly panels and mini fairs.

There has been great feedback so far. “Several learners said this affected their future choices,” Kazan said.

In addition, Kazan mentioned one more benefit of this college fair. “The more these college representatives know our schools, the more their admissions offices will recognize our students when they apply. This work improves the relationships with those that might hold our learners’ futures in their hands.”

Learner Spotlight: Victoria Mason

Victoria Mason featured

For iLEAD Exploration learner Victoria Mason’s family, homeschooling is a way of life. Other than a quick stint in a brick-and-mortar school to see what the other side of the coin was like, Victoria has homeschooled her whole life and wouldn’t have it any other way. She wouldn’t have the chance to develop her many hobbies and passions without the flexibility that homeschooling offers. From equestrian vaulting (gymnastics on a horse) and aerial silks to musical theater and modeling/acting, Victoria enjoys very busy days. While quarantine put a damper on things, she still managed to be a part of two online theater productions this year. Before then, she was a part of 15 different productions at the wonderful South Pasadena Young Stars Theatre.

Victoria has always had big goals and works hard to achieve them. She has the mind of a writer and likes to analyze her books in a deep way. This year she has asked to start learning about philosophy, which has opened up so many amazing questions to ponder. She is an animal lover and has managed to convince her family to fit nine animals into their lives, from tiny praying mantises to her awesome dog, Lulu.

An artist at heart, Victoria loves to draw, paint, customize dolls and make wonderful clay creations. While in quarantine, she also started a YouTube channel, where she shares her passion for mythology. Victoria and some of her best friends are also starting their own rock band. She is very excited about all the fun that will come in upcoming years, when Zoom rehearsals are a thing of the past. Dungeons and Dragons is also a favorite hobby, as Victoria loves creating worlds and adventures as a Dungeon Master, leading her friends to their certain doom or glory.

Victoria is always quick to try something new and loves learning about people and meeting new friends. She is a fearless learner and thrives in multiage situations, which the family has always focused on. Learning that way has also helped her to be the absolute best big sister to her little brother, Jack, who has Down syndrome. She is his biggest cheerleader and helps teach him in fun ways that help him laugh and grow.

Summer Credit Options


If you have struggled this year and need to recover credits or are simply looking to get ahead, earning credits over the summer can be a very good option. Many of our learners participate with iLEAD Online for the summer, but their seats are full, and learners are now being placed on a waitlist. There are some great paid options still available that include:

If you believe summer credit is a good fit for you, but you need additional guidance on course selection or other questions, please reach out right away to your academic counselor.

A-K: Bethany Maddox,, Schedule an appointment

L-Z: Heather Fecarotta,, Schedule an appointment

CTE (Career Technical Education)

Career Technical Education

Are you still looking for an elective for next school year? Career Technical Education (CTE) is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge in a given career field and explore new career options. Career Technical Education is a program of study that involves a multi-year sequence of courses covering technical and occupational knowledge. The goal is to provide learners with a pathway to postsecondary education and/or career. You can think of this as a way for learners to “major” while in high school and focus on elective courses of specific occupational interest. iLEAD Exploration is offering the following Career Pathways:

  • Public Service Pathway
    • For those interested in corrections, law enforcement, loss prevention, military service, paralegal, court reporter, or lawyer
    • Includes courses in criminal justice, forensic investigations, and mock trial
  • Child Development Pathway
    • For those interested in careers as a child care worker, child psychologist, or family service advocate
    • Includes courses in child development and social sciences
  • Entrepreneurship and Business Pathway
    • For those interested in careers in business ownership, business, and accounting
    • Includes courses in entrepreneurship and business math
  • Patient Care Pathway
    • For those interested in any area of the medical field
    • Includes courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology
  • Animation Pathway
    • For those interested in careers as a digital animator, artistic director, commercial artist, animator, or graphic/digital artist
    • Includes courses in animation, illustration, cartooning, and advanced art
  • Photography Pathway
    • For those interested in a career as a photographer
    • Includes a sequence of courses in digital photography and advanced techniques

To complete a CTE Pathway, learners need to choose a pathway, identify a career within that pathway, and then complete a 3-year sequence of courses. Talk with your EF about adding a CTE pathway to your courses for the coming school year.

Don’t see a career of interest above? That’s okay! There are many CTE opportunities available through your local community college. These programs offer state-of-the-art equipment and accredited certificates that can lead directly to a career. Bonus: You can also earn college units while working towards your career of interest! A simple search for CTE + the college name will bring up a listing of all their CTE Pathways. If you are interested, contact the Strong Workforce Counselor at your local community college.

For more information or assistance reach out to us directly at

College Essay Guy

Untitled (1)

Rising Seniors, Class of 2022, it is time to start your college application journey! Summer is the perfect time to work on your essays before the hectic application deadlines during the fall semester.

iLEAD is partnering with College Essay Guy to make these valuable workshops available FREE to iLEAD learners:

  • The Personal Statement: This workshop is for the main college essay. It can be used for the Common Application (the application used by 1000 colleges), scholarship essays, honors programs, and individual college applications.

  • The Supplemental Essay: Often individual colleges require supplemental essays. They can get overwhelming as each college asks a different question or even multiple questions. College Essay Guy will be having two weekend crash courses to prepare for these essays.

  • The University of California Personal Insight Questions (PIQs): Our UC system has its own set of questions. The College Essay Guy has a weekend crash course and a three-week course in October.

View the dates and sign up here!

By registering for one of these courses, you will receive access to the College Essay Guy’s new Choose Your Own Adventure Essay Tool. This is an online program that walks you through the entire essay process from brainstorming, to choosing your essay format, to completion. This program will be yours to use throughout the entire application season.

Some applications are due as early as November 1, so don’t delay! Take advantage of these live essay boot camps, crash courses, and the essay builder tool. Once you get started, make an appointment with our College Advisor, Laura Kazan, to go over your essays and put on the final touches.



The FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the form that learners and parents fill out to receive financial aid for postsecondary education. This can include four-year colleges, community colleges, and trade schools. In most cases, the learner AND parent will need to fill out the FAFSA. Each will supply their own information. For divorced, widowed, and non-traditional family situations, this graphic can help you decide which family member should be included in the FAFSA and which parent will need to provide information.

The FAFSA opens on October 1, 2021. It should be filled out as soon as possible. For learners heading to a four-year college, the FAFSA deadline can vary by college so be sure to check the deadline on each college website. For students attending a public college in California (the University of California, the California state system, or a California community college) the final deadline for maximum financial aid is March 2, 2022. Do not wait until the last minute as some colleges award aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here are some helpful resources to explain FAFSA:

  • How to fill out the FAFSA: This video explains the necessary documents, information, and steps required to fill out the FAFSA. Information and documentation include your social security, your taxes, and W2. You will also need your permanent resident card if applicable.
  • How to create an account for the FAFSA: This video explains the steps to create an ID for both students and parents. The student and the parent must each create their own account. A Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is necessary to log in and complete the FAFSA.
  • Information for parents filling out the FAFSA: This video explains the parent portion for filling out the FAFSA for dependent students. This video explains the difference between a dependent and independent student and will help you determine your dependency status.
  • FAFSA YouTube channel: This provides numerous videos to help explain financial aid in general including filling out the FAFSA, tips for parents, and understanding loans.

The California Dream Act allows undocumented California learners to apply for financial aid for California state colleges. This video explains more about CADAA.

Eligible learners who file the CADAA may receive grants for University of California schools (examples: UCLA, UC Irvine), the California State University system (examples CSU Long Beach and San Diego State University), and the community college system.

Check here to see if you qualify under the California Dream Act or AB 540.


Get more information about the FAFSA

Get more information about the CADAA

If you have any questions about the FAFSA, the CADAA, or financial aid in general please contact iLEAD Exploration’s College Advisor, Laura Kazan, at

High School Spotlight: Julianna Longhenry


Julianna’s interests in environmental causes, social justice, and music have led her to participate in many activities. She has enjoyed leadership positions in Scouts BSA, where she has led groups in various outdoor skills activities combined with support for a local free diner for her Eagle project. She has participated in the National Children’s Chorus (NCC) since fourth grade and will graduate from the program after singing with the most advanced ensemble in the chorus for the past three years. In addition to vocal ensemble performance opportunities, her time with the NCC has included music theory, composition, and conducting instruction, as well as opportunities to sing with other groups, including the LA Master Chorale and Tonality, a local social justice-driven chorus. She has also sung with and performed as a soloist for the Commonwealth Community Chorus, a local social justice-driven children’s chorus.

While enrolled with iLEAD for the past six years, Julianna has been able to explore her passions in an academic setting. She has been able to take advantage of concurrent enrollment at West LA College, where she has majored in sociology and will complete an AA shortly after her graduation from iLEAD. The flexible schedule in hybrid homeschooling has at times allowed her to work with children in casual babysitting as well as professional teacher’s aide environments. Julianna has enjoyed participating in the Associated Student Body (most recently serving as regional president), the Creative Writing Club, and the National Honor Society.

Julianna will further develop her interests as she heads off to Beloit College this fall. She has been awarded a music scholarship and plans to sing in at least one campus choir. She has been awarded merit aid and will participate as a Human Rights & Social Justice Fellow (including opportunities for undergraduate research and study abroad) while completing her BA in sociology.

Congratulations, Julianna, for all you have accomplished. We are proud of you and thankful to have been able to be a part of your journey at iLEAD.


Mental Health Awareness Month


On this second week of Mental Health Awareness month, we would like to draw your attention to a lesser-known contributor to mental wellness: hydration.

Did you know that dehydration, or the absence of water/fluids, can quickly affect how you feel and think? Dehydration can manifest in the form of headaches, mood swings or other mental processing challenges.

Every system and organ in your body, including your brain, relies on water to function. In fact, your brain makeup is about 75% water. Your mental health is primarily influenced by your brain’s activity and functioning. A 2012 study from the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory showed that a 1.5% loss in water volume in your body can significantly alter your energy level, ability to think clearly, and mood.

When your body and its systems don’t have enough water, they can’t function properly. Below are three common ways dehydration can impact your mental well-being:

1. Dehydration directly affects energy: If you are dehydrated, the energy generation in your brain is impeded, severely affecting your thinking and brain functioning, sometimes even shutting down brain functioning completely.

2. Dehydration can obstruct your brain’s serotonin production. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in your brain frequently called “the happy chemical” because it increases feelings of well-being and happiness. The process of creating serotonin requires a great deal of water to complete, and if you aren’t properly hydrated, you may encounter mental health challenges. Dehydration also depletes the levels of other amino acids in your brain, leading to feelings of anxiety, dejection, irritability, and inadequacy.

3. When you don’t drink enough water, your body begins a self-perpetuating cycle of stress and dehydration. Stress is perhaps the best-known contributing factor to depression. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands produce excess cortisol, the stress hormone. However, under chronic stress, your adrenal glands become exhausted and can’t function efficiently. Your adrenal glands also produce aldosterone, a hormone that regulates fluids and electrolyte levels in your body. A decrease in the production of aldosterone leads to dehydration. Drinking enough water can help you lower stress levels which, in turn, alleviates depression symptoms.

Drinking water regularly throughout the day is an effective step to take to care for your mental health. Try starting with a glass of water first thing in the morning and drink two or three glasses between meals. Maybe try carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go — and don’t forget to pause throughout the day to take a drink.

What’s your daily water plan?

Staying hydrated is just one aspect of maintaining good physical, emotional, and mental health. We are not one-dimensional, so a healthy approach to mental health is personalized and multi-faceted.

Other Resources:

Dehydration and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection

Hydrate for Your Mental Health

How Hydration Improves Mental Health

6 Awesome Jobs That Require a Second Language


There’s an increasing demand for bilingual workers. New American Economy reports that the demand for bilingual workers more than doubled between 2010 and 2015. That’s a lot of new jobs that need qualified bilingual (or multilingual) candidates!

According to the Chicago Tribune, foreign language careers are on the rise in a number of fields, including finance, health care, social services, information technology and more. Learning a second language can increase your employability in almost any field you can imagine.

Additionally, bilingual workers often earn more than their monolingual counterparts. AOL Finance reports that bilingual workers earn between 5% and 20% more than the base rate per hour.

1. International Sales Manager: In any sector that produces goods, it is likely there are international sales positions. Many international sales positions focus on B2B “business to business” sales. Businesses often sell their products to other businesses, and while these negotiations are often considered more complex, they can also be tremendously satisfying for a skilled negotiator.

2. Study Abroad Coordinator: These coordinators serve as a university’s go-to person for study-abroad opportunities.

3. Foreign Service Officer: Foreign service officers serve as representatives of their home nation in countries throughout the world. Depending on their career track, they might help Americans abroad, protect American borders, work to negotiate with foreign governments, manage embassy operations, promote mutual understanding and more.

4. International Development Program Officer: International development jobs focus on helping communities across the world. This may involve addressing issues like health, clean water, economic development, energy, the environment and more.

5. Foreign Correspondent: International journalists and foreign correspondents travel throughout the world to cover breaking news stories.

6. Intelligence Operative: Being an intelligence operative doesn’t necessarily involve sneaking into parties to follow shady characters. It might involve field work, but there are also many positions in analysis, STEM and support.

Adapted from “Living the Dream! 6 Awesome Jobs That Require a Second Language.”

Learner Spotlight: Lusineh Nasrollahi

Lusineh Nasrollahi featured

iLEAD Exploration learner Lusineh Nasrollahi cares deeply for the Earth and the animals and plants that live here. She is a member of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. She uses Earth-friendly products, recycles, donates items she no longer needs, and tries to not buy things she doesn’t need. Lusineh is also hoping to start composting soon. One of her goals for the family is to create as little trash as possible. In the summers, a portion of Lusineh’s backyard turns into a kind of butterfly farm for monarch butterflies. This summer, Lusineh plans to provide extra help to the butterflies, giving them milkweed, water, and possibly some extra protection.

If Lusineh is not working on a flower garden, she’s working on a vegetable garden. She takes care of fruit trees in the backyard and is now working on growing flowers and turning the family’s backyard into Descanso Gardens.

Lusineh has a wonderful imagination and sense of humor. She is very creative, and she “sharpens her saw” by doing craft projects, sewing, gardening, reading (especially Magic Treehouse, Flat Stanley, and graphic novels), drawing and modeling (especially Pokémon characters), and taking care of her pet bird. Art and animals inspire her to write more creative stories.

Lusineh participates in many different extracurricular activities for fun. Initially her family turned to extracurriculars to offer her an opportunity to develop her communication and social skills. Many of the activities have become a part of Lusineh’s life, and she has continued doing them for years. She exemplifies zest with her interests and passions.

Lusineh loves to dance. She started dancing when she was four years old. She usually dances ballet, jazz, and tap. Her favorite dance style is tap, but she also wants to learn flamenco, tango, salsa, and Irish step dancing. The family has lots of dance parties at home. Lusineh brings out the disco ball and puts songs on her mom’s phone, while she and her little five-year-old and three-year-old sisters dance until they are covered with sweat. Lusineh loves to be funny and to make people laugh. Improv (theater) class, which has been via Zoom so far, has been a great outlet for her.She is the youngest one in her class.

iLEAD Exploration learner Lusineh

Lusineh also enjoys singing in a choir. She started by singing in a small church choir. She has sung a few solos for the church congregation and has performed a solo with the adult choir. She was invited to record a tiny bit of a solo at a private recording studio. She was awarded a singing scholarship last year. With the pandemic, choir meetings have not been allowed for a year, but as soon as things get back to “normal,” Lusineh will definitely start singing again. Lusineh is now also singing in a community choir. Other artistic activities Lusineh enjoys for fun are musical theater, martial arts, art classes, and piano lessons. Recently, Lusineh has started experimenting with making her own songs on the piano.

Lusineh absolutely loves animals, especially birds. Lusineh has a pet cockatiel whom she brought home when he was only a baby. She named her pet bird Feathers and has taught him some words, songs, and games. Next, Lusineh wants to have an aquarium, and she definitely wants some neon fish and a suckerfish in there. She wants to have a farm with different animals but will settle for a chicken for now.

When it comes to academics and extracurricular activities, Lusineh’s family does not encourage competitiveness. They just want Lusineh to have a wonder-filled childhood in what they perceive as a fast-moving, pushing-children-into-adulthood world. At home, they encourage an awareness of values (and value differences between people or families) and the need to live by one’s values (and to accept and to love others whose values may be different from theirs). Lusineh’s family strongly believes that joy and happiness come from having good values and from living by those values. The amazing thing about homeschooling is that it gives Lusineh the opportunity to explore the world and herself, to fill her life with things that bring her joy, and to understand her values.

Homeschooling was not something Lusineh’s family considered. However, year after year, Lusineh was being bullied at school. When her parents found out more about the situation at school, they turned to emergency homeschooling. That changed everything, and now Lusineh has been with iLEAD Exploration for the last two years. Having had a taste of homeschooling with iLEAD and with the support of an amazing educational facilitator, Lusineh’s family has decided that homeschooling is a kind of dream come true for them, and not only for Lusineh, but for all their children.

May Webinars and Virtual Events

Fall Webinars

We hope that you will join us for our final webinars of the 2020-2021 school year. Please click the links below for all of the details on how to register:

5/18 at 11 a.m.: TK-3rd Grade Virtual Show and Tell

5/19 at 12 p.m.: Presentation by Jonathan Mooney: “Normal Sucks”

Webinars 2021

Mental Health Awareness: Supporting Your Teenagers

mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness month. During these unprecedented times, it is important that we are aware of mental health concerns. Some common mental health conditions include the following:

1. Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating)

2. Personality disorders (antisocial, paranoia, borderline personality disorder)

3. Addiction (alcohol, opioids, tobacco)

4. Mood disorders (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorders, cyclothymia)

5. Thought disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional)

6. Anxiety disorders (social anxiety, phobias, generalized anxiety)

7. Developmental differences (autism, ADHD)

Please take a look at this video regarding what mental health and well-being look like in high school learners.

MAP Testing is Underway


Who better to give advice on test-taking tips than learners themselves? We talked with iLEAD learners to find out about their successful experience taking the growth MAP assessments. Here is a list of test-taking tips for kids by kids:

1. Set a daily goal of questions you want to answer. Try to do 20 questions so you’re not stressed about doing all of them in one day.
2. Enjoy treats if your parent lets you! Chew gum or candy while working on the questions.
3. Take the test when you’re the most focused!
4. Take stretching breaks after a long question.
5. Don’t stress – just try to do your best!

DreamUp to Space Teams Load MixStix for June Launch

DreamUp Launch Teams load MixStix experiments

iLEAD Exploration DreamUp to Space Launch Team members met with their teams at SCVi Charter School on Monday, May 10, to prepare experiments for launching to the International Space Station this June. With the assistance of facilitator Shawna Brown and Kathleen Fredette, Director of STEAM Initiatives, plus a team of DreamUp and Nanoracks advisors joining via Zoom, learners carefully loaded the experiments into MixStix. We’re also pleased to have Burpee Gardening as a project sponsor this year.

Want to learn more about this year’s DreamUp teams? Click here!

Together Tuesdays


Twice per month, we share a new Together Tuesday video. Click here to submit your photos or short videos for the next edition! Submissions received by the Friday before each edition are eligible to be included. We can’t wait to see your contributions! If you have any questions, simply reply to

Learner Spotlight: Oscar Morales

Oscar Morales featured

iLEAD Exploration third grader Oscar Morales has been homeschooling since kindergarten and loves it. The thing he likes most is being able to learn through real-life experiences. He and his family spend a lot of time outdoors exploring nature, hiking, swimming, fishing, and gardening.

When Oscar is not doing schoolwork, he spends his time sharpening the saw by reading, drawing, and playing games with his friends online.

Oscar has a zest for learning new things, and he immerses himself in whatever he is learning. He especially enjoys learning about animals. His favorite places are the zoo, the farm, or the beach. He likes making connections to what he’s learning by visiting new places, trying new things, or eating new foods. With homeschooling, Oscar sees every day as a new adventure!

Oscar is learning to play the ukulele. He enjoys fishing, kayaking, and drawing. He loves to read, especially the Warriors series. He also enjoys memorizing and reciting poetry.

May Webinars and Virtual Events

Fall Webinars

Mark your calendars for our upcoming May activities! Please click the links below for all of the details on how to register:

5/12 at 3 p.m.: Roundtable Discussion About Anxiety

5/13 at 1 p.m.: TK-2 Read Aloud “It Could Have Been Worse”

5/14 at 10 a.m.: Financing College

5/14 at 1 p.m.: End of the Year Bingo

5/18 at 11 a.m.: TK-3rd Grade Virtual Show and Tell

5/19 at 12 p.m.: Presentation by Jonathan Mooney: “Normal Sucks”

Webinars 2021

25 Activities to Keep Kids’ Brains Active in Summer

Summer Activities iLEAD Exploration

Here are some awesome summer activities and ideas that will keep your kids engaged this summer. Best of all, they are all really fun! Pick one that looks like a good fit or combine a few of them to create a season packed with learning.

  1. Fill in summer’s special days and events on a calendar. Help children use pencils, drawing paper, and rulers to create, decorate, and fill in their own summer calendars.
  2. Teach kids to cook and bake using recipes and cookbooks, including those from your family history and traditions.
  3. Make homemade bubble solutions and experiment with unique bubble blowing tools like strings, milk containers, and garbage can lids.
  4. Read aloud The Paper Crane by Molly Bang. Then introduce the art of paper folding by printing and following the instructions for how to make an origami crane.
  5. Go on a nature walk.
  6. Create musical instruments from materials found around the house.
  7. Cool down by making ice cream in a bag. The simple technique produces delicious ice cream in about five minutes.
  8. Read aloud your favorite myths or fairy tales. Discuss the stories with your child. Then invite your child to choose a story, and together make a diorama depicting a pivotal moment in the tale.
  9. Catch a firefly and then go online to learn more about fireflies or read a book about them.
  10. Have your child make an original tessellation.
  11. Staple together pieces of plain paper or use a notebook to help your child make a cartoon flip book. Have your children draw a sequence of cartoons and simulate motion as they “flip” through the pages.
  12. Learn about national parks from the comfort of your own home, and encourage your child to complete online activities and become a web ranger.
  13. Start a rock collection. Collect, gather, identify, and store neat rock specimens.
  14. Plan with your child a family activity day. Decide how much money to spend, and help your child research events and activities in your area and choose an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy.
  15. Take a virtual campus tour of colleges and universities your high school student might be considering.
  16. Ask your child to design an original paper airplane and diagram the steps for constructing it so another family member can recreate it!
  17. Start a family or neighborhood book club. Even a parent and child can form a book club by reading the same book and chatting about it.
  18. Hang a white sheet outside at night and shine a light on it. Observe the variety of insects it draws.
  19. Kids rarely have the opportunity to design their own rooms to best suit their individual needs. Invite your child to devote some thought to ways to improve his or her living space.
  20. Help your child make a set of tangrams. Trace the designs on a piece of paper, mix up the tangram pieces, and use them to create jigsaw puzzles.
  21. Create a clue-based scavenger hunt. Write clues and place them in envelopes, then give your child the first clue. As they open the clues, they are practicing their reading skills and ability to follow directions. At the end of the hunt, you can place a small surprise or a fun activity for your child to find.
  22. Turn your favorite book (story or chapter book) into a play. Write a script, have family members take different roles, and even create your own props and backdrops. Record or share it live with family and friends over Zoom.
  23. Turn plain white carnations or fresh-picked Queen Anne’s Lace into dramatic colored creations. Using just food coloring and water, flowers can be changed from white to any tint (usually in just one day).
  24. Invite your child to play a math game and record his or her scores on a sheet of paper. Choose a probability game, a timed flashcard activity, an online game from a site such as FunBrain, or another favorite math activity. Celebrate your child’s effort with a special treat.
  25. Put old wallpaper and magazine scraps to good use by using them to create recycled paper beads. This easy activity requires very few common materials and keeps kids very busy on rainy days. When they’re finished, children can string their beads and give them as gifts or wear them for fun.

This article was adapted from “25 Activities to Keep Kids’ Brains Active in Summer.”

Please visit their website to find links to support all the activities above.

DreamUp Learners Prepare for Experiment Launch to International Space Station

DreamUp Grace and James

Michael Niehoff
Education Content Coordinator, iLEAD Schools

DreamUp To Space is an exciting multiphase project that pushes the boundaries of how kids look at Earth and our universe by empowering them to design experiments to be launched to the International Space Station.

With the leadership of Director of STEAM Initiatives Kathleen Fredette, Maker Learning Network and iLEAD California schools ran the project virtually this past year. Phase one resulted in two learner-authored experiments being selected by a panel of aerospace experts. Phase two is defined by two launch teams, comprised of learners collaborating in experiment optimization and community outreach in preparation for the experiment launch scheduled for June 3, 2021.

We recently spoke to two learners on launch teams: Grace Stumpf and James Walker, who both attend iLEAD Exploration. The two told us about their experience with DreamUp so far.

What is a launch team and its purpose?

Grace: The purpose of DreamUp is to get kids excited about space exploration and inspire the next generation. This year’s launch teams are groups of students, ranging from middle to high school, working together to send an experiment to the ISS. The launch team I’m on is testing the effects of microgravity on the germination of Vigna radiata, or mung beans.

James: The “why” behind our launch team is to find reliable alternatives for food sources for long-term space travel. Currently, food aboard the ISS is blasted into space on expensive rockets. It would be cheaper and more efficient to grow/create food in space and required for future space colonization. My team is working towards sending up Daucus carota (carrot) seeds, which we obtained from Burpee Seeds, up to the ISS for experimentation of carrot growth in microgravity versus on Earth. Indeed, Burpee made a generous donation to our project!

What inspired you to apply to be part of a launch team?

Grace: I wanted to step outside my comfort zone. Space has always interested me, and I was willing to put in the hard work to make it to launch. I didn’t want to go through my life and not try anything new. I also thought that being on this team might appeal to future college admissions teams. When I applied, to be completely honest, I didn’t think I was going to make the team. But I am so glad I did!

James: Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve dreamed of being an astronaut. I always ask myself, “What is the best line of action?” for the future. So when I heard about this team, I knew this would bring great opportunities for me later in life. Not very many people have the opportunity to send something to the ISS. I think this will enhance my portfolio when applying to schools or jobs.

What will it mean to you when your project finally launches this summer?

Grace: I’m really looking forward to watching the launch on YouTube or in person, depending on how things work out. Once that happens, it will mean we’ve almost finished with our DreamUp project and something I worked on has gone to space!

James: I’ve never seen a rocket launch in person, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. We have a lot of work to do before that. But the satisfaction of seeing the work pay off could very well be the best prize anyone could ask for.

What has been the most challenging part of the project so far?

Grace: The most challenging part has probably been researching all the information on Vigna radiata for our experiment.

James: The hardest thing for me would definitely be having to shift my schedule around for meetings.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this project so far?

Grace: The most rewarding thing so far has been writing as a guest blogger for the iLEAD Student Aerospace Projects blog. It is my dream to be a published author and write my own book. The blog was an amazing experience and gave me a wonderful opportunity to practice my writing. I would also like to thank Mrs. Fredette for providing me such a fantastic opportunity.

James: To me, the most rewarding thing so far would be the time I spend with my team over Zoom. They are amazing humans and extremely smart for their age. It is really nice to be around people who are as interested in space as I am.

What are the disadvantages and advantages of doing this work virtually?

Grace: One of the advantages is that we are able to have team members all over the country. Most of us are based in California, but we have team numbers as far away as Colorado. A disadvantage is that no matter how hard you try, you can never replace being able to see someone in person.

James: My favorite part of doing this virtually is that I don’t have to leave home. However, it is getting quite lonesome, and being able to interact with people in person is a lot easier than virtually. Experimentation on germination of carrots would also be a lot easier if we were able to work together in person.

What have you learned while being part of DreamUp, and what would you tell others who are considering getting involved?

Grace: I learned about the International Space Station, germination, microgravity and better time management. My message for others who might consider getting involved in DreamUp is this: If you’re interested in space and willing to put the work in, go for it!

James: It is a general fact that hard work pays off, but DreamUp really put that into perspective for me. If I met someone who was considering joining DreamUp, I would heavily encourage it if they were willing to do lots of work and have great amounts of fun.

Click here to learn more and to register for the next mission!

7 Habits – Sharpen the Saw


Habit 7 is the habit of renewal.

“Sharpening the Saw” is what a lumberjack must do in order to cut wood efficiently and effectively. The same applies to the scissors of the seamstress, the paintbrushes of the painter, and the tools of the craftsman.

To maintain and increase our effectiveness, we must renew ourselves in body, heart, mind, and soul. This improves our capacity, builds stronger relationships, and allows for continuous improvement. Building greater reserves builds the strength we need for those hard moments when we need to show the grit, determination, and patience that are the hallmarks of a strong character.

This week, discuss with your family ways to sharpen your individual saws to renew each family member’s body, heart, mind and/or soul.

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