Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Scouting Minus the Bigotry

I was interested to find out about the Unitarian Universalist's answer to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) - the Navigators.  All the fun of scouting, without the bulky religious litmus tests and anti-gay bigotry!

As an Atheist parent, and as a human who supports full human rights for all humans - including gay ones, I ruled the Boy Scouts out for our family long ago.  Yes, I realize that some local groups are more open than others, but at the national level, the discrimination is the law of the land.  We just can't overlook that here in our home.

Bonus points to the Navigators for being co-ed too.

Navigators USA - a different kind of Scouting

Unitarian Universalist World article on the Navigators

Spark-ed at MIT

MIT offers several different enrichment activities through its Educational Studies Program - ESP, some, like Spark, and the autumn session called Splash, are one or two days on a weekend, while others meet weekly.  The cost is low for Spark and Splash, $20 and $30 respectively, for all the classes you can fit into your schedule.  There's even financial aid for students who can't afford this tuition, which, in theory, should make it pretty accessible.

This past weekend my 7th grader attended MIT's Spark program for middle and high-school students.  Among his favorite classes were 'Zombie Defense', and 'How to Save the World', (after clicking the links, do a "find" search in browser to get to these class descriptions).  He found the discussions and interactions with classmates and teachers to be informative, stimulating, and most of all - fun.

I wish more colleges and universities would do programs such as this, as I have found that exposure to these environments to be very motivating for younger kids as they approach college prep curricula.  The focus on having fun is key, and being surrounded by other intelligent, curious, and engaged kids, all while being taught by college undergrads, really helps energize young minds.  This helps make regular study that much more relevant.

I appreciate that an elite institution like MIT makes the effort not only to offer this kind of introduction to higher ed for young students, but attempts to keep costs low for everyone.

MIT Educational Studies Program - main site