Heading south on I-5, after you’ve cruised past Kruse Way, you can see the tidy red brick buildings of SW Sequoia Parkway that make up Pacific Corporate Center. Twenty buildings make up the center that stretches a full mile along our famous freeway. The usual suspects are there; Starbucks, Office Depot, Sweet Tomatoes, and even a Marriott Courtyard, however there’s one business, an innovative new after school program, setting up shop that will instantly grab the attention of almost every 9 to 14 year old you know. Fidgets2Widgets, at 15495 SW Sequoia Parkway, is a holistic STEM-focused program that combines this age group’s innate curiosity with cutting edge technology.
Founded in Eugene by counselor Sydney Ashland and Pam Simon, M.S.W., co-authors of books “Mind Your Minecraft, Eat Your Vegetables!” and “Parenting High Energy Kids,” this innovative new program takes the bad guy out of screen-time and puts kids in charge of their technological futures. It takes productive, mind enriching lessons, and sandwiches them with trampoline time, virtual soccer and dance, and more wiggle-reducing activities. As well as having 40 computers, 20 Droid tablets, a dedicated Maker space (think 3-D printing) and snacks, Portland Fidgets2Widgets will teach lessons with Minecraft that will grab your kids’ attention quicker than you can utter the word “Redstone.” If you don’t know about Redstone, ask any tech savvy 9-14 year old and prepare to see the future unfold before your eyes.
As she prepares for the December opening, co-founder Pam Simon was able to grab a few moments to answer the following questions about the new program, and what parents can look forward to:
Sally Murdoch: What’s the main difference between Fidgets2Widgets and other after school programs?
Pam Simon: The primary difference between Fidgets2Widgets and other after school programs is that we have a STEM-focus. We are teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but in a casual and fun way. We use a lot of educational software as well as projects to engage kids in a creative way. Fidgets2Widgets is mentoring kids in becoming content creators, rather than just passive users of technology.
SM: Is this similar to a Montessori program?
PS: Fidgets2Widgets is similar to Montessori in that we have a holistic approach to learning. We engage the whole child. “Holistic, High Energy, High Tech” is even our tag line. Our programming is varied and balanced. We have sedentary activities as well as many opportunities to exercise during the time at Fidgets2Widgets. We have a WiiU and another Virtual Reality System called, “Beam,” along with Yoga Balls, Stationary Bike, etc. The way we are different from Montessori is that Maria Montessori could never have imagined the digital age and what 21st Century learning would require.
SM: Tell me a few things about Emmett, the main educator of the Portland location.
PS: Emmett Baber has an AA in Multimedia Arts. He is creative and has a passion for teaching kids in a different way than traditional schooling allows. He has worked in both traditional school districts as well as after school programs. We feel very fortunate to have him as part of our team!
SM: How about transportation while I’m at work–can you help get my child to Fidgets2Widgets?
PS: We are able to offer some transportation to our program with our 12-passenger van, but initially we’ll only able to transport from nearby schools in Tigard, Tualatin and Lake Oswego. Our age range is 9-14, so we span both upper elementary and middle school years.
Sound cool? Get your 9-14 year old in while there’s room. This exciting after school program is slated to start December 1, 2015 and they’re currently accepting applications with a registration fee of $25. Each session costs $25 and program hours are from 1:00 pm on.