About the Humanist Learning Lab
We envision the Humanist Learning Lab as a safe space for children and adolescents to ask big questions and explore what it means to live a good life. Our goal is to make the Learning Lab as relevant and useful as possible to the HCH community during this pilot year while also using it as a venue to explore Humanist education possibilities for the future. Over the course of the fall semester, we’ve learned more about the needs and interests of the families in our community, so we’re restructuring the program for spring semester to adapt to those needs.
If you’d like to give so we can do more to share our curriculum, insights, and materials with others who want to run similar programs across the country, please contact Outreach and Development Manager Sarah Chandonnet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 5, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Young Scientists Workshop
HCH Community Center, 12 Eliot St, 3rd floor
Ever wished you could peek inside your cells and see your DNA? Now you can! Kids of all ages (and their parents) can come learn about Charles Darwin and his theories, find out what mutation and variation have to do with evolution, and try their hands at doing some science themselves. All participants will get to extract and take home a sample of their very own DNA!
Young Scientists will take place on Sunday, May 5, from 4:00-5:00 pm, at our community center in Harvard Square (12 Eliot St, 3rd floor, in Cambridge). There will be an hour free in between this workshop and the panel at the Harvard Science Center (note that childcare will be provided for free during the panel). Participants who wish to attend both programs will receive a list of local restaurants where they can get dinner in between. The Young Scientists workshop will be led by one of our community members, Tony Debono. Advance registration is recommended to ensure sufficient supplies for everybody to participate in the lab, though walk-ins are welcome if there is room. Reserve your spot by emailing me at email@example.com. Suggested donation to cover materials is $10 per participant, payable at the event by cash, check (made out to Humanist Community at Harvard), or credit card.
Tony Debono is a husband, scientist, and father of three children ages 10, 8, and 6. He was a Biology major in college, and later earned a Masters Degree in Forensic Science. He has over a decade of experience in academic science, working in fields such as environmental chemistry, immunology, and microbiology. Tony enjoys singing and listening to classical and Big Band music, TV/movies, reading, bike riding, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving. He is passionate about educating children about science, reason, reality, and equality. He spent some time as a church Sunday School teacher, and as a traveling science educator with Mad Science of Greater Boston. Tony is currently working towards his education certification in order to become a full-time high school biology teacher.
April 28th, 10:00 am -11:30 am: Welcome Spring!
Lusitania Meadow, Fresh Pond Reservoir Recreation Area
Join us at Cambridge’s own Fresh Pond as we explore what it means to have a “Land Ethic.” Aldo Leopold popularized the term “Land Ethic” in his landmark 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac. Leopold is commonly credited as the forebear of the modern land conservation movement, and of the concept of environmental stewardship as it is often used in the U.S. today.
As Humanists, we care about the health, resilience & beauty of our natural world. And we believe that there’s no better way to start to understand our world and our place in it than using direct observation of all that surrounds us. Rain or shine, we’ll use our eyes, ears, noses & thinking caps to explore the special sanctuary of the Lusitania Meadow at Fresh Pond Reservation, right in our own back yard.
“What do I see? And why might that be?”
Using our senses as a jumping-off point, we’ll ask ourselves questions like:
- How do we feel when we’re in nature?
- What makes nature “natural”?
- What evidence of plants & animals do we see around us?
- How can we tell that it’s spring?
- How many different kinds of trees, plants, leaves & rocks can we find?
- How do animals use plants?
- What is “habitat”? Can we find any animal homes?
- What about people, how do we use plants? (Are vegetables really plants?)
Older kids will also discuss questions like:
- What is an ecosystem? What evidence of an ecosystem is around us?
- Why do some plants grow in the water and others do not?
- What is a “plant community”? How is it like a community of people?
- How can thinking about plants & animals help us best embrace & honor our roles as humans?
- What did Aldo Leopold mean when he wrote about a “Land Ethic”?
- What is environmental stewardship? What is a “steward”?
- Why are we talking about all of this? And who was Aldo Leopold, anyway?
This program will be appropriate for ages 5 & up. Younger children are enthusiastically welcome, and their “activity” will be to have fun exploring nature with an awesome group of people. We will develop activities for 2-3 developmental-age groups. Please help us plan for the ages of your children or their individual needs if you notify us as soon as possible that you’ll be attending!
This workshop will be led by community member Laura Kuhn, MCH, MCLP, AOLCP – Principal, Laura Kuhn Design Consultation (LKDC), Arlington, MA; Ecological Landscape Designer, Horticulturist, & Educator. As a self-taught designer, Laura adapted her experiences in theatre arts and choreography to the design of outdoor spaces in 1997. With her design practice, LKDC, Laura designs artistic and functional landscapes for clients in New England and beyond. Laura enjoys teaching at The Landscape Institute at The Boston Architectural College and the Garden Design School USA. She also speaks regularly to homeowner and green-industry groups. In addition, she has been a volunteer in advocacy and in promoting ecological best-practices for the design professions for over a decade. A committed Humanist, Laura is excited to merge her early academic studies of early childhood development with her deep appreciation of ecology and natural systems by working with our Humanist Learning Lab children as they explore and appreciate our beautiful natural world. A portfolio of Laura’s design work can be seen at www.onebirch.com. Laura’s current certifications include MCH, MCLP and AOLCP.
March 3, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Humanism Onstage!
Democracy Center, Mandela Room, 45 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge
This interactive theatre workshop, led by community member Lucas Blondheim (bio below), will use improvisation, story theatre, and creative drama techniques to get kids (and their parents) moving, imagining, and examining Humanistic values through art and narrative.
The workshop will start off with a theater game to create a safe and comfortable environment that the kids and parents feel they can explore freely (and to burn off some energy!).
As a jumping-off point for our explorations, we will use the story “Hey Little Ant” by Phillip M. Hoose, Hannah Hoose, and Debbie Tilley. This is the story of a boy struggling to decide whether he should squish an ant after the ant suddenly speaks to him and asks him to reconsider. Once they are familiar with the story, children will act it out in different ways and explore their answers to questions such as: What would you do in this situation? What if your friends were watching you talking to the ant? The issues of peer pressure, life and death, bullying, the “golden rule,” and empathy are all themes which this workshop aims to explore.
This program is recommended for children ages 2-10 and their parents, but older and younger budding thespians are certainly invited. RSVP requested to help us plan, but drop-ins are also welcome! There will be time for lunch in between the workshop and the Community Meeting at the HCH center, and a list of recommended restaurants will be provided on request. This workshop is free, with a suggested donation of $5 per student to help cover space and material costs, payable by cash, check, or credit card at the workshop. Email Chelsea at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or ask questions.
Lucas Blondheim is a professional actor trained at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NY) and is a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio. Lucas has worked as an actor in film & television, and performed in both New York City and regional theaters. Originally from South Dakota, Lucas relocated from NYC to the Boston area this past year. He currently works as an administrator at The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. and is a candidate to receive his Bachelor of Science in Project Management online. In his spare time, he likes to watch sci-fi movies/TV series, tinker with technology and computers, and try not to come across as being too nerdy to his friends, family and co-workers, in which he succeeds approximately 63% of the time.