Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4/10 & 4/15 Module Reports

A mostly qualitative post for now, as I'm still busy with school work. The numbers and further details will come later. Executive summary: both modules went well!

The first module (4/10) took place in Northview Elementary as a prep for a field trip. ~175 kids participated, setting a new record for the CCP. Pictures will be posted soon.

Two very good things to come from this. First, the CCP has been invited back to Northview next year to give its stand alone workshops. This was thanks to the strong positive reaction the students had. The CCP was praised for being a flexible activity with strong educational value. The teachers of the autism program were especially impressed with how their students responded (many thanks to Robert Anke for first piloting it among that group). One teacher took a few extra comics for use as an in-class activity later on, which was a high compliment.

Second, the CCP has been asked to join in the Fatherhood Initiative, which works on promoting activities that can help fathers work with their young children. The CCP can achieve this by having a Pre-K child (4-6 years old) work on the comic as their father helps them. Participation in this program will give the CCP access to some 100 sites across Pittsburgh - including other schools.

The second module (4/15) was a result of a public health-focused field trip sponsored by four organizations: Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the Create a Comic Project, and the host for the event, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

This marked the second time the Children's Museum has hosted the Create a Comic Project (the first was the 12/29/07 Workshop). The museum allows institutions like GSPH to create "custom field trips," meaning that the CCP has now not just held a workshop there, but has now been a part of a major museum event! Pictures and video will be posted soon, thanks to the wonder of photorelease forms.

A quick summary of the trip: 200 students from Northview (Grades 3 - 5) were brought to the museum, where volunteers from GSPH, using resources from ASPH, led them around the museum and used its exhibits to tie into the idea of public health. The CCP was used as an interactive photovoice activity to allow the kids to put the concepts they learned into their own words. Comics were created in the museum itself and later when the students returned to their school, with some 36 teams producing comic books of their own to compete for prizes.

The second module ran into some bumps because the busing company that was supposed to bring the kids to the museum at 10 AM failed to fulfill their end of the bargain, forcing the school to get another bus company and delaying the start of the event by over an hour. So of the three events with comics tied to them, one was scrapped entirely and not all the groups were able to do the other two. Fortunately, the other aspects of the trip succeeded thanks to the hard work of museum staff and GSPH volunteers.

The Children's Museum has expressed strong interest in doing a field trip like this again with GSPH and the Create a Comic Project. This means the CCP is in a strong position to become a regular fixture at the museum through GSPH sponsored events. This, combined with the CCP's newly acquired status as a school outreach program, is sure to propel the comic project a lot further in Pittsburgh.

As one of the people at GSPH told me, once you have a big educational event with one public school under your belt, it becomes much easier to attract other schools into working with you. Now I get to put that to the test!

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