Winter vacation doesn't mean quite the same thing this year, when most kids have been attending school at home for months already. The Santa Fe Alliance for Science (SFAFS), an organization of local scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals who volunteer in Santa Fe schools with the goal of inspiring the scientist in every student, recognizes that children and parents are anxious for new activities that will engage curiosity, creative thinking and enjoyment, without feeling like work!
Imaginative SFAFS volunteers have come up with two “mini-STEM Challenges” that you can do at home with your children over the winter break.
The Spaghetti Tower Challenge encourages kids to build the tallest freestanding structure they can, using sticks of spaghetti and tape, that will support a regular-sized marshmallow for at least 15 seconds. Sound easy? This engineering problem actually requires considering the same forces - gravity and wind - that engineers must take into account when building a cell phone tower, bridge or skyscraper.
In the Hoop-Winged Glider Challenge, students turn a piece of paper into an experimental wing for a new type of aircraft that may actually be more economical and efficient than today's airliners.
These two activities rely on materials readily available at home and reinforce basic principles of science and engineering investigation. Fun and simple to carry out, they are sure to spark further children's curiosity. And they won’t even realize they’re “doing science”!
By Claudette Sutton. Photos courtesy of Santa Fe Alliance for Science.
Over the past two decades, United Way of Santa Fe County has focused on early childhood care, education and policy, and though we have been an affiliated member organization with United Way Worldwide since 1955, we have not operated as a traditional United Way in many years. As such, we will end our membership with United Way Worldwide at the end of this year. Beginning in January 2021, we will change our name to Growing Up New Mexico: The Early Childhood Partnership.
We will have a new name, but our organizational mission, vision, focus, and work will remain just as they are. Our board of directors and staff worked diligently to choose a name that fully encompasses our identity, and I think we have achieved that in Growing Up New Mexico.
By changing our name to Growing Up New Mexico: The Early Childhood Partnership, we are signaling our commitment to New Mexico’s children and the adults in their lives. What matters most is that word up, because passion and aspiration fuel everything we do. We’ve directed programs and policy around early childhood education and care and created the public awareness and political will for investment in early childhood education and care in New Mexico for many years. We will continue to do the same important work, just with a new name.
For more information, please go to: www.uwsfc.org/newname.
- By Abby Bordner, Vice President of Resource Development for United Way of Santa Fe County.
Learning to cook is a life skill that can open the door to a lifetime of delicious food. Cooking empowers children and families to practice a healthy lifestyle. In general, if children cook it, they want to eat it. And it’s fun!
There are now many, many virtual cooking classes for children, but not so many that are free. Here are a few that are open to everyone, free of charge:
Cooking with Kids (CWK) teaches food literacy to thousands of children in 16 virtual school communities in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. Students learn about "eating a rainbow," taking virtual field trips to local farms, and using stories, drawings, scavenger hunts and recipe-writing challenges to stay excited about healthy eating. See lots of how-to videos and recipes for all families on our website or YouTube Channel. Once a month, CWK is partnering with Presbyterian Healthcare Services to offer free virtual family cooking classes, open to anyone. Sign-up info can be found on Cooking with Kids’ Facebook or Instagram pages or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Edible Schoolyard Project is dedicated to transforming the health of children by designing hands-on educational experiences in the garden, kitchen and cafeteria that connect children to food, nature and to each other. Cooking with Curiosity, a new curriculum written for both distance and in-person learning, is designed to introduce students to cooking skills while building reflection practices so they can cook confidently on their own terms. Cooking with Curiosity is a four-unit curriculum with about 40 lessons, designed to be completed over the course of a semester. Lessons are written for middle school students, but many will adapt easily to elementary and high school audiences.
Purple Asparagus educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Through exploration and discovery, they inspire a lasting love of delicious nutritious foods. Visit their YouTube channelfor recipes, lessons and activities, in English and Spanish.
Kids Cook! provides hands-on experiential learning for elementary and middle school students and their families. The website includes many videos that strive to inspire families to cook and eat meals together, be more physically active and share their knowledge with their communities.
We Are Teachers’ mission is to inspire teachers and help them succeed by sharing practical classroom ideas, the best freebies and teacher-to-teacher advice and humor. The site also offers 16 virtual cooking classes for kids.
- By Lynn Walters, PhD, the now-retired founder of Cooking with Kids, a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on nutrition education with fresh, affordable foods. The Cooking with Kids Cookbook is available locally at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Courtesy photo.
Two contributors to Tumbleweeds were recently honored with awards for their children’s books.
"Goodnight, Los Alamos,” written by Whitney Spivey and illustrated by Brenda Fleming, won in the best children’s picture book category at the 2020 New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards. Published in October 2018, it features two girls who say goodnight to 26 notable places and things in and around Los Alamos, including Bandelier National Monument, the Rio Grande and the historic Fuller Lodge.
Spivey and Fleming are Los Alamos moms who are excited to see their book being recognized. “It’s fun to see the book reaching a different audience,” Spivey said. “I hope people are inspired to come explore our little mountain town, learn about our history, and experience everything Los Alamos has to offer.”
Now in its 16th year, the awards, hosted by the New Mexico Book Co-op, showcase the best books from New Mexico and Arizona authors and publishers. This year, 64 winners and 83 finalists were selected in 48 categories. Nearly 800 entries were submitted for consideration by the panel of judges; books were evaluated on criteria including writing, content, layout, and cover design.
“I am thrilled that this book won the children’s picture category,” Fleming says. “Illustrating this book was a true passion project for me, a chance to reflect on watching my daughters grow up and explore this beautiful place we call home.”
In March 2020, "Goodnight, Los Alamos" received an honorable mention in the children’s book category in the Zia Book Awards, hosted by the New Mexico Press Women. The book is also featured in a New Mexico True tourism video.
“Goodnight, Los Alamos” is available for $20 at the Los Alamos Cooperative Market, Gadgets at the Bradbury Science Museum and Gadgets online, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, the visitors center at the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and etsy.com. You can also email Spivey at email@example.com to request a signed copy. Follow the book on Instagram @goodnightlosalamos.
Other winners included Rudolfo Anaya for “No More Bullies” in the Bilingual Children’s category; Barbara Matthews Benge as a finalist in the Children’s Picture category for “Robinette Redbreast and the PEPPER Flake Escape,” and Young Adult winner Jennifer Edelson for “Between Wild & Ruin” and finalist W. Michael Farmer for “Geronimo, Prisoner of Lies.”
Santa Fe author Rosemary Zibart, another Tumbleweeds contributor, was also recently honored for her middle-grade historical fiction novel, “Beatrice On Her Own.”
The novel, set in Santa Fe at the start of World War II, received the 2020 CIPA EVVY gold medal for Juvenile Fiction - Middle Grade from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association on Sept. 18, then won the NM/AZ Book Award for Historical Fiction (New Mexico topic) from the New Mexico Book Coop on Sept. 25.
In “Beatrice On Her Own,” 13-year-old Beatrice Simms must battle prejudice and fear when America enters World War II and a Japanese internment camp is constructed in Santa Fe.
“Beatrice On Her Own" is the second book to feature Beatrice. The first, “True Brit Beatrice - 1940,” also received multiple awards for historical and middle-grade fiction.
The book is published by Kinkajou Press, the middle-grade imprint for Artemesia Publishing, a small publishing company located in Tijeras, New Mexico.
- By Kristen Cox Roby
As the pandemic stretches on, Santa Fe's public libraries continue to create innovative ways to reach their communities.
The Santa Fe Public Library has introduced a new option for parents to request personalized checkout bundles for children.
Use the form here to tell the librarians your child’s age; what topics, themes, genres, characters or subjects they’re interested in; about how many books you’d like; and which branch you’d like to visit to pick up your child’s bundle. The librarians will select books to fit your child's interests, and email you when they are ready to check out during their curbside pickup times, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from noon to 5:30 p.m.).
The Vista Grande Public Library in Eldorado is offering a range of to-go options. The “Grab & Go Bag” concierge service, available for adults and kids of all ages, can be requested using an online or in-person form. Just fill out what kinds of books (or DVDs) you like to check out, and staff will put together a selection of items based on ages and requests.
The Vista Grande library is also offering "Binge Bags," with a selection related to a single topic or theme. Examples include some STEM topics like weather or geology, an historical era or a part of the world, and genres such as spy novels or fantasy.
Finally, the library is offering Kids' Activity Grab Bags, with a new theme every two weeks. Each free bag contains four activities including craft kits, ideas for home projects, color pages and other kinds of items, available for pick-up during the library's open hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday,
For more information, visit vglibrary.org.
By Kristen Cox Roby
This fall, the Railyard Park Conservancy (RPC) offers Santa Fe youth two ways to take a deeper look at the 11-acre Railyard Park: a Scavenger Hunt and Railyard Park Photo Contest, both designed for kids of all ages.
Two Railyard-themed Scavenger Hunts, one for younger kids and one for teens and ‘tweens, provide families with free outdoor activities designed to inspire kids to interact with nature. Younger explorers are encouraged to identify, for example, something soft, something rough, something with legs and something with wings. Older kids are asked to think critically about different gardening practices, find acequias running through the park, and name animals that live in the area. The Scavenger Hunts were created by RPC’s Children’s Committee, a group of retired educators who are passionate about getting kids outdoors. Both versions are available in English and Spanish, available in the Community Room (behind SITE Santa Fe) or on the RPC’s website: www.railyardpark.org.
Also this fall, the annual Railyard Photo Contest returns! This year’s contest is open to youth ages 8 to 18, who are invited to submit up to three photos taken in the Railyard in the category of Nature or Community, by Nov. 1. These broad categories are open to interpretation and are meant to engage powers of observation. The contest is juried by the artists and museum professionals who make up the Railyard Art Project Committee. Thirteen prize packages, including a professional print of the photo and a package of goodies from local businesses, will be awarded within two age categories: 8-12 and 13-18. To submit photos and review Photo Contest rules visit, railyardpark.org/2020-photo-contest/.
For the extra-competitive young photographer, this fall also features a photo contest hosted by one of our community partners, Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization. Details can be found at their website: www.santafempo.org.
The RPC provides community stewardship and advocacy for the care, educational programming and public art in the Railyard Park and Plaza. Come take a deeper look at the Railyard Park this fall and enjoy the changing trees and get your creative juices flowing.
By Kathryn York, marketing director, and Shannon Palermo, executive director, of the Railyard Park Conservancy.
Recognizing that children, teens and families are facing increased challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sky Center of the New Mexico Suicide Intervention Project is now offering its free and bilingual counseling services for teens and their families through remote sessions and a limited number of in-person sessions, in accordance the state public health guidelines.
The Sky Center works to address all the factors that elevate the risk of suicide among youth — lack of connection, lack of accessible resources for behavioral health care, difficulties managing moods, lack of resources for housing and food, increased family and relationship conflict — and the ways the pandemic has amplified those issues.
The Sky Center also provides school-based groups to various Santa Fe Public Schools, led by the graduate interns in partnership with the school counselors. These groups, now more than ever, focus on reconnecting youth to each other and to their schools, families and community, to help them manage their daily challenges and strengthen their support network.
For more information or to make an appointment, call (505) 473-6191 or visit nmsip.org.
By Annai Burrola, MSW, development coordinator of The Sky Center.
Local nonprofit Reading Quest — which provides joyful, quality reading tutoring for striving readers and workshops for parents, tutors and teachers -- is offering a range of events and resources in the coming weeks:
Reading Quest takes a science-based approach, utilizing the best research on how children acquire the ability to read English, with explicit phonemic instruction tailored to the strengths and specific needs of each student.
The organization supports each child to develop a growth mindset and the conviction that they are capable of any accomplishment when they try their best and persist in the face of challenges and obstacles. It strives to make the learning process so engaging and exciting that each student begins to see themselves as competent and powerful and traveling a path towards reading mastery and a love of books.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rayna Dineen, the director of Reading Quest. Courtesy photos.
Expect all schooling to be conducted virtually, at least for the first nine weeks.
The Santa Fe school board has approved a plan that would offer remote instruction to all of the district’s students for at least the first nine weeks of school.
Under the plan, which was approved July 16, school would resume Aug. 20 in an all-virtual environment. When infection transmission rates fall below 1.05, the district plans to start bringing students back in a pilot hybrid model, which would involve a small pupil-to-teacher ratio that would increase 20 percent at a time.
If and when a hybrid model begins, the district says it will “do our best” to accommodate families and teachers who wish to continue virtual instruction, according to a statement detailing the plan.
The plan reflects an agreement between Santa Fe Public Schools and the Santa Fe chapter of the National Education Association and must now be approved by the state Public Education Department.
The plan comes on the heels of rising rates of coronavirus infections across the state and in Santa Fe, as well as conflicting reports and uncertainty surrounding transmission rates for children and a nationwide debate over the safety of reopening schools as U.S. infections surge.
That uncertainty was reflected in a survey sent out earlier in the summer to Santa Fe parents, older students and teachers asking them to rank their preference for full re-entry, fully virtual instruction or a hybrid approach. The results found parents were equally divided among the three options, while half of faculty and staff preferred remote instruction and nearly half of respondents in grades 4 through 12 preferred full re-entry.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Photos from SFPS "Re-entry Planning Overview 2020-2021"
ArtWorks, an experiential arts program for Santa Fe Public School children and their teachers, has received more than $15,000 in recent New Mexico Arts funding.
The ArtWorks program was awarded funding from New Mexico Arts to support its arts education model in the Santa Fe Public Schools. ArtWorks also funds through the NM CARES emergency funding opportunity. New Mexico Arts awarded 42 nonprofit arts organizations across New Mexico to help deal with the economic hardships caused by the forced closure of their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ArtWorks, a program of the Partners in Education Foundation, engages students in higher-order thinking, including critical thinking and making connections between concepts, in order to help them succeed in school. It also trains teachers to integrate the arts into teaching math and language arts.
ArtWorks works with Santa Fe public schools, arts organizations, artists and philanthropists to bring Santa Fe’s arts community into the schools through a program involving art-making, viewing live performances and exhibits, and achieving understanding through inquiry and reflection.
Look for the article on ArtWorks' art and poetry program, with ideas for teaching children to write poetry individually or in groups, in our Fall 2020 issue, launching Sept. 1.
For more information, visit artworkssantafe.org.
By Kristen Cox Roby. Drawing by Allison Treviso, third grade, El Camino Real Academy; teacher Patricia Gay-Webb, from the ArtWorks Art & Poetry Anthology 2019-2020.