Vroom Vroom…Let’s Race Some Solar Cars!

The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub lends out solar car building kits to youth organizations around Douglas County. These kits consist of a variety of Kinex pieces, a small motor, and a solar panel. The challenge is for youth to build a functional solar-powered car using only the pieces in the bag.

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Each student gets a single bag, and each bag contains the same pieces. The challenge comes from assembling the pieces into a functional vehicle. The students come up with wildly varied designs.

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Back in June, we held a race to see whose car could travel the fastest and the farthest. Not all of the cars were successful…

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…but science is all about experimentation, and sometimes experiments fail. That’s how you learn!

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We held a race in the parking lot. The event was so popular that we’ve brought the solar car kits back for an encore! This time around, the students are using the things they learned during the last event to improve their designs.

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May the best car win!

Shakespeare Time Youth Theatre Presents The Comedy of Errors

What a busy year it’s been for the students of Shakespeare Time! Finally, all of their hard work has paid off, and they get to perform their production of The Comedy of Errors for the people of Winston.

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This past Friday, the students stayed late for a dress rehearsal before their first show on Saturday. Although the rehearsal was long, and several things went wrong, they were (mostly!) attentive and focused, keeping the show running, troubleshooting problems, and listening to feedback after the rehearsal.

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Sunday, May 15th was the big day — opening night! The students arrived, helped each other put on stage makeup (the purchase of which was made possible by a generous grant from the Douglas County Cultral Coalition), got into costume, and set up the stage for their performance. They waited backstage while the house slowly filled up with their families and friends.

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“Waiting backstage” sometimes means “taking wacky cast photos.”

The show went really well! Things ran smoothly and almost no one forgot when they were supposed to speak their lines!

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The audience loved the silly action, especially when characters hit one another with pool noodles. Everyone, actors and audience included, had a lot of fun!

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Don’t miss your chance to get in on the action — the final performance of Shakespeare Time’s The Comedy of Errors goes up tonight at 7pm on the Winston Community Center stage!

Shakespeare Time Field Trip to UCC

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On the weekend of March 12, six students from the Shakespeare Time youth theatre program gathered with some of Roseburg’s finest community actors to read, rehearse, and perform an obscure play in only one weekend. The play was John Lyly’s Gallathea, an early modern comedy featuring mythological figures like Neptune, Venus, and Cupid.

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The actors met up on Saturday morning to read and discuss the script, learning about the play’s context and figuring out what all of the strange words meant. They also drank a great deal of coffee, because coffee is critical to the creative process.

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After reading through the script, the actors got the show on its feet, deciding on blocking and figuring out the ways in which they wanted to physically embody their characters.

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All of the actors were playing more than one role, so they had to determine how they would physically and vocally differentiate one role from another.

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Of course, we had to make time to have pizza! Pizza, much like coffee, is a critical part of doing theatre.

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Soon, we added costumes to help the audience and the actors tell which characters were which. The actors loved picking out costumes for their different characters! The Shakespeare Time students had a lot of fun choosing which things to wear. Actors had to be able to switch characters quickly, so we had to chose simple things that could be worn over out clothing, like hats, skirts, and wings.

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On the day of the performance, the actors ran through the show with costumes twice, and then it was time for an audience! Family and friends came to see the show, and they laughed in all the right places. The Shakespeare Time students loved getting to work on a much larger, nicer stage with stage lights. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely! Hopefully the Shakespeare Time students can participate in Drama Obscura again!

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Teen Center Pool Tournament Brings Out the Sportsmanship in Everyone!

Besides offering youth programming to expand educational opportunities for our youth and serving meals that help to ensure that our youth stay healthy, one of the other services we provide for our youth is the reinforcement of important social skills. One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is to sponsor tournaments! Healthy, respectful competition is great for teenagers. It teaches them to rise to the challenges of others in a positive way, and it forces them to navigate potential conflicts calmly and kindly.

Our most popular sort of tournament is by far the pool tournament. Pool tournaments attract lots of our members to participate. Pool is one of the most popular activities here at the Teen Center. Although pool isn’t directly educational, the building of social skills is just as important as participation in educational activities in the creation of mature adults. Competition can get heated, and our members have to learn how to dispel potential conflicts respectfully and peacefully.

This month’s pool tournament went wonderfully! We had ten Teen Center members and one staff member participate.

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The tournament was very exciting. Staff member Tari Perez is excellent at running pool tournaments, and she always creates a double-elimination bracket. This makes things more equitable, because even if a participant loses a game, they’ll still get at least one more chance to compete.

One notable element of this particular tournament was the fact that one of the participants had recently injured his shoulder. He felt like he could still compete in a sling, but the other participants felt like it would be unfair to have someone with two good arms play pool against someone with only one. The solution? Have the other guy wear a sling, too!

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Another staff member jury-rigged a quick sling out of scrap fabric, and the participants who faced our injured members all wore the sling to keep things fair. Good sportsmanship is sometimes pretty entertaining!

After several exciting matches (and a few dramatic scratches!), our winners were determined!

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The Members of Growing Healthy Kids Are Growing Determined to Have the Most Peas

The Winston Area Community Partnership sponsors the G3 Garden Club at Winston Middle School. Every Tuesday, our Youth Programs Director, Paulette Roberts, troops down to the middle school to run a garden club meeting. Club members learn about gardening in a hands-on environment that promotes practical understanding of gardening techniques.

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This week, the students worked on planting peas. Each student was assigned some pea seeds, either an heirloom or hybrid variety. They learned about inoculants, which protect plants from things like legume fungus.

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All of this careful work is necessary, because the middle school garden club really wants to beat Brockway Elementary this year in an annual contest to see which garden can be the first to produce two cups of shelled peas.

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Last year, Brockway Elementary won the contest.

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Obviously, this made Paulette somewhat grumpy. But this year, the G3 Garden Club is getting started early with those peas! Good luck!

The Second Annual Winston Youth Madrigal Dinner Is a Great Success!

At the end of last month, the youth of the Winston Teen Center worked together to make our annual fundraiser happen: the Winston Youth Madrigal Dinner! When we tell people about the dinner, the first question that a lot of people ask is, “What’s a madrigal dinner?”

The “madrigal” is a musical form consisting of a Capella vocals in multi-part harmony. A madrigal dinner is a modern form of dinner theatre, usually incorporating a feast with several courses, performances of madrigal music, and a comedic play that takes place between courses of the meal.

Our Winston Youth Madrigal Dinner uses traditional madrigal songs interwoven with a very silly play written in rhyme by the Winston Teen Center’s Youth Development Specialist, Rachel Fitzhugh. This year’s play was a sequel to last year’s play, and Fitzhugh let the students involved make a lot of suggestions that she later incorporated into the plot of this year’s dinner.

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Rehearsals are fun!

Rehearsals started in December, and the cast members rehearsed once a week for two months.

Though rehearsals were sometimes confusing to the members of the Teen Center who were not involved!

Though rehearsals were sometimes confusing to the members of the Teen Center who were not involved!

In addition to rehearsing the play, we also had to get all of the props and costumes ready and collect donations for our silent auction.

Like these really cool headphones donated by local business Good Vibrations.

Like these really cool headphones donated by local business Good Vibrations.

Teen Center Director Amy Decker brought in so many donations of amazing items for our silent auction, and Paulette Roberts did an amazing job of planning the dinner itself, advertising the dinner, selling tickets, and coordinating with the caterer. So much work goes into planning a fundraiser!

We even had a commercial!

After all of this work, on January 30th, everything came together in a magical experience. Both the students and the audience were transported to Camelot for the evening, with delicious food and good entertainment! If you didn’t make it this year, be sure to mark your calendars to attend next year’s dinner. For a taste of what’s in store, check out our video of the performance. It’s no replacement for actually attending the dinner – there’s no food in a video, for one thing! – but it gives an excellent preview of the magic in store!

See you next year!

There’s Always Time for Shakespeare Time

Every Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, a dedicated group of Teen Center members gathers to rehearse some Shakespeare. Though many people (teenagers and adults) seem to suffer from the erroneous belief that Shakespeare is boring, the students of Shakespeare Time prove this wrong every week by having entirely too much fun with Shakespeare.

Don’t believe me? Check out this video.

We’re in the middle of rehearsals for The Comedy of Errors, which will be performed on May 15th and 16th at the Winston Community Center. Everyone in the cast is a member of Teen Center, volunteering their time to learn about early modern theatre and rehearse every week. It’s inspiring to see their passion!

Not to mention their silly facial expressions.

Not to mention their silly facial expressions.

An Exciting Field Trip to a Technology Fair at UCC!

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Last Thursday, Teen Center Director Amy Decker took a few of our members on a field trip to Umpqua Community College to attend their 9th Annual Explore Engineering fair! The fair was held at the Danny Lang Center on campus.

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The Danny Lang Center — what a cool building!

The event started out with a career fair consisting of almost thirty booths from four-year university technology programs, local industry representatives, and members of UCC campus technology departments and clubs. Our members had a lot of fun visiting the booths, collecting brochures and taking notes.

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This was followed by a catered dinner and several presentations from various technology-based companies testifying to their need for qualified graduates from UCC, the UCC engineering club, and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub.

Some of our members are still figuring out camera technology...but practice makes perfect!

Some of our members are still figuring out camera technology…but practice makes perfect!

The students had a great time exploring secondary education and career opportunities. They returned to the Teen Center greatly edified…but not before exploring campus.

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We hope to take more field trips to Umpqua Community College in the future!