Master Life Skills
Because adaptive apps help our students achieve their academic goals in half the time it takes a student in traditional school, we’ve got plenty of time to build the skills we know will serve them well, no matter what their future holds. We call them Life Skills, and they range from public speaking to personal finance, computer science, academic and non-academic writing, wellness, rational thinking, navigating social media, and more. We teach them through our beloved Guide-led workshops.
Baked in learning
Because our students get to choose their workshops, and because “rational thinking” doesn’t exactly have kids lining up in droves, our workshops infuse learning into topics they know their kids will enjoy. And it works! Workshop sign-up days, which take place before each seven week session, are some of the most exciting days at Alpha. And the workshops themselves range from actual baking to live performances, teaching game theory through their favorite games, and more.
Video games… in school?? You betcha! In this workshop, there are two sections: the engineers and the project managers. The engineers learn spatial reasoning and mechanical engineering skills through CAD and 3D printing to create a retro gaming console. The project managers must use their knowledge of home gaming consoles to inspire, direct, and hold accountable their engineers to deliver their console in time for Demo Day. On Demo Day, fellow students use all consoles to determine who created the highest-quality gaming experience!
Popular Alpha Workshops
While workshop offerings change with every seven weeks (and our Guides are constantly outdoing themselves), the workshops below, offered by age, represent some favorites our students continue to ask for each year.
Calling all adventurers! Students explore the world around them, delving into cultural differences as they learn from a variety of resources such as books, virtual field trips, videos, tasty snacks, and hands-on activities. New learnings and desired travel destinations are documented in a travel journal. Passport paperwork not included!
T2P: Complete a 20 step minimum process with 5% margin of error. Students will set dollar bills on fire, create fake wounds and pour their own plate glass. All projects that are proven to be engaging on their own, not to mention technical and complex. All skills we know translate to countless other areas in life: coding, project management, engineering, baking etc.
Every Alpha student has an incredible story inside them. Students prepare and perform personal five-minute narratives in the style of The Moth podcast. The group focuses on community and trust-building, giving and receiving feedback, and, of course, telling a great story.
Alpha Mad Scientist
Explore the mind-bending magic of biology, astronomy, geology, and more while practicing reading and following directions. Early elementary students explore their world as they gain independence in pursuit of becoming an Alpha Mad Scientist.
Alpha Construction Company
Alpha students drop the hammer and pick up basic carpentry skills in this workshop. Our carpenters-in-training take on a bird feeder, bat house, toolbox, and a project of their own design. Students are given the tools and directions for all projects. They have to manage their own time, materials, and pay attention to the details to build their masterpieces!
Build a Civilization
Use logic and reason to build and advance a world of your own. Students form their governments, evolve their technologies, and overcome the crises their civilizations face by studying the civilizations of the past and present and putting history’s lessons into action.
Life Skill: Computer Science Students will learn how to code in Python to drive an autonomous car around a race track. With weekly challenges, students will acquire new skills and build an inventory of commands to help them maneuver around the track and be the first to cross the finish line! T2P: Students must program their car to independently complete the course without hitting a single pedestrian.
Great Alpha Bake Off
Got a sweet tooth? In this workshop, students teach themselves how to bake by utilizing the endless number of cooking and baking resources on the internet. Final competitions put newly-acquired skills to the test through a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper culinary creation.
Focus and intensity skills are put to the test as students create mazes and escape rooms through a trial and error process. Planning ahead, using peer feedback, and successfully achieving milestones along the way will make you say, “That’s a-mazing!”
No one likes to lose – especially when it can be avoided! Students explore and test a variety of game strategies using an unlikely tool, Connect 4. While playing this childhood classic, they’ll learn how to use reason, patience, and logic in pursuit of winning simple games from here on out.
Now You See Me
Have you ever seen a toothpick disappear? Students perfect sleight of hand tricks as they explore and practice how to be an engaging performer. Confidence and control are critical as students give feedback on their peers’ performances in preparation for the culminating magic show.
Party Planning Committee
Who doesn’t love a good party? Students try their hand at coordinating a budget, theme, intricate logistics, and a few curveballs for their fictional client’s on-campus event. The best part? Students of all levels get to enjoy the carefully-designed party as the culminating project, and party planners get real feedback from their peers.
Calling all coding competitors! This Olympics-themed workshop is centered around building simple robots to compete in a Robot Decathlon (or maybe… a RoboThon?). Students build a tricked-out Raspberry Pi buggy to carry them through a series of courses and speed runs in hopes of becoming a RoboOlympian.
Secret Life of Ads
Let’s draw back the curtain to examine why and how great ads can convince people to do just about anything! Students design and distribute their own ads to sell treats to the campus community. The goal? Run the most successful ad campaign and earn some Alphas!
Land ahoy! Survivors of a shipwreck learn how to fend for themselves as they build camp, find clean water, and attempt to forage for food. Inspired by the adventure of Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island, students get their hands dirty as they experiment their way to survival.
Sign Me Up
Students flex their language muscles in a new way, learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) using True+Way ASL, a self-paced application that educates through videos. The workshop is punctuated by “silent” days during which students can converse only in sign language. As their final project, students make a video entirely in sign language to communicate a message to their peers.
The Uncomfort Zone
“There is no illusion greater than fear.” - Lao Tzu
Outside of a necessary biological response to keep us alive, fear is nothing more than a thief of happiness, growth, and courage. Students practice using rational thought to cope with uncomfortable situations as they come face-to-face with their fight or flight response. Get ready to dive into activities like snake handling, eating new foods (bugs!), and getting an acupuncture treatment.
Hi-YA! Explore the discipline and skills of taekwondo alongside local instructors. Early elementary-aged students gain confidence, coordination, and dabble in self-defense skills as they learn about a new way to move their bodies.
TBD the Musical
The topic of this musical is….to be determined. A cast of middle schoolers use theater games and brainstorming techniques to understand the kinds of stories they like to tell and the way they’d like to tell them. Sit in the audience to enjoy the script, set, direction, and ultimately, performance, collaboratively designed by the group.
Can your team… put itself in birth order without speaking? Identify which survival items it needs most if stranded in the desert? Run blindfolded through an obstacle course with only your teammates to guide you? In this workshop, early elementary students practice cooperation and teamwork through age-appropriate challenges. By the end, students will understand the basic building blocks of great teamwork: clear communication and respect for others.
We’re in Business!
What happens when early elementary-aged students receive a loan to start their own business? Students embark on an entrepreneurship adventure to learn about the basics of personal finance as they experience how it feels to hatch a business idea, receive a loan, put the business idea to action, and pay the loan back.