Holistic, High Energy, High Tech
- Growth at 49% over past year, Two Locations, Attendance Waiting Lists
- Multiple Revenue Streams, State of the Art Computers, 3-D Printers, VR
- Nationally Recognized Innovation, One of a kind Hybrid
Pioneering, Immersive Education through cutting edge technologies. Using 3-D Printing, Programming, Virtual Reality, Wearables and Game Based Learning to teach children ages 8-14. State of the Art.
Fidgets2Widgets (F2W) is a STEM focused after school enrichment program with the tag line, “Holistic, High Energy, High Tech.” The holistic approach is designed to address the “whole” child. The high energy/high tech components acknowledge our children as high energy human beings in a high technology world.
Fidgets2Widgets honors a child’s natural way of being in the world while hleping them to progress through the developmental stages of middle childhood. We strive to meet the “holistic” (i.e. physical, emotional, motivational, social, expressive and intellectual) needs of each child.
What we know about 21st Century kids, is they can tolerate and absorb an amazing amount of sensory information/stimulation. Their minds move quickly, their attention spans can be short, they do best when taking in information in small bytes. In addition, all children have enormous amounts of physical energy. F2W is designed to accommodate both the internal and external high energy needs of children.
Today the world is literally at our fingertips. We adults communicate with each other through texting and social media, learn through programs on our personal and work computers, read books on our eReaders. Our children are no different. From infancy, they are exposed to and inundated by these high technology devices. At F2W we strike a healthy balance between the physical, the sedentary and the intellectual. We utilize technologies that enrich daily learning experience and stay active with our Wii and Kinect sporting devices. We nourish children’s spirit through music on our iPods and books on our iPads and Kindles.
At F2W, children experience a perfect balance as they transition from school to home in this professionally supervised environment. We use STEM curriculum to provide a stimulating variety of daily experiences:
- Video/Audio Creation
- Data Science
- Engineering Concepts
- Fibbity Exercise Program (integrating Fit Bit, Jumping and incentivization)
- Homework Assistance
- MinecraftEdu and Minecraft Club
- Lego Mindstorm/Spheros
- 3-D Printing
- Interactive Gaming
- Kids Biz
- Financial Literacy
- Digital Citizenship
LEAP OF FAITH– BY AMY CHARLES
“Fidgets2Widgets is a welcoming environment where everyone is comfortable. Kids who self-identify as geeks or nerds, social kids, kids who may struggle with Asperger’s or mild autism, kids who are gifted—they all get along and form relationships. No cliques. No bullying. They are all Widgetarians!” Pam Simon has a B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Iowa and an MSW in Social Work from Gallaudet University. Yet the Fidgets2Widgets concept came primarily from a collaborative relationship with co-founder Sydney Ashland. Their real education was in raising their children. “We saw a big disconnect between school life during the day and digital/virtual life at night on computers, tablets, phones, and gaming consoles,” said Simon. Digital/virtual life was social, relevant, current, and engaging in a way school wasn’t. Social media, gaming, and texting became the modern-day playground. Technology is the language children speak; the way in. Although children in general think they know everything technologically, Simon and Ashland saw the need for close supervision and guidance regarding safety, discernment, balance, and skills—tools not taught with great prevalence in schools. And afterschool enrichment options become very limited closer to middle school. Children were no longer satisfied with afterschool care that felt more like “babysitting.” Rather than continuing to complain about what didn’t exist, Simon and Ashland took a huge leap of faith and built a concept, program, and casual learning environment centered on what they’d observed. They leased physical space, ordered furniture and devices, and began creating the curriculum to support their tag line: “Holistic, High Energy, High Tech.” They wanted a casual learning environment where fully engaged children experience technology through the “active creator” (not “passive user”) lens. They constantly survey the children to see what they are interested in learning. One example was integrating Minecraft and other educational gaming platforms into their learning modules. As a social worker, Simon’s basic tenet is, “meet the client where he/she is.” She and Ashland know that to reach their digital natives, they must meet them at technology—their love and way of life. “As long as we are in charge, supervising, structuring, and mentoring, we know they are using technology in appropriate ways.” Fidgets2Widgets has a structure children relate to and use as a container of exploration. Children are mastering basic STEM skills, and because the environment is relaxed and holistic, they move freely from exercise bike to balance board to Legos to Wii to computers. “When it’s time to meet as a group and tackle the learning module for the day, there is exuberance, joy, and great social interaction.” Simon and Ashland relate to the children as female role models and mentors, with that nurturing “mom” energy thrown in for good measure. “We are middle-age women who love technology ourselves,” said Simon. She and Ashland are committed to remaining on the cutting edge and helping children experience technology. “We find ourselves staying one step ahead of the kids. It can be daunting at times, but as lifelong nerds ourselves, we enjoy it!” •