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The Center For Experiential Learning at AFS

The Center for Experiential Learning program encompasses a school-wide approach to learning that connects students in substantive ways to hands-on experiences and extended learning in the outside world.

Rosanne Mistretta, Center for Experiential Learning Director, oversees our one-of-a-kind experiential learning program, which include a global travel program, and professional mentorships in business and medicine. Rosanne directly provides one-one-one advising to students looking for experiential opportunities outside of AFS.

MedEx and BizEx are the flagship programs of the Center for Experiential Learning. MedEx pairs students interested in medicine with exceptional professionals in the field for a year-long program of in-depth learning and exploration. MedEx students connect with real-world mentors and engage with doctors and professionals in varying fields of medicine, covering topics such as medical ethics, surgical techniques and conducting and reading x-rays and MRI’s. The BizEx program explores entrepreneurship and fosters innovation with immersive experiences that connect students with leaders in the business world.

The Center’s Mission

The Center for Experiential Learning at Abington Friends School creates opportunities for intellectual, personal and creative growth through engagement and action.

Rooted in the Quaker belief that experience is a student’s most powerful teacher and driven by the core Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equity, and stewardship, the Center fosters opportunities to connect with people, places and ideas.  These experiences cultivate inquisitive learners who understand their personal obligation to the global community and are prepared to engage with the world.


Clubs and Organizations

Student Clubs and Organizations at AFS

Our school has long prized experiential learning as central to the AFS experience. There are so many opportunities for students to encounter a larger world of learning through clubs and activities beyond the classroom. Most clubs are student-led with a faculty or parent advisor. Clubs and organizations are another layer for community and peer connection. Clubs are offered throughout Middle and Upper School and 100% of our students participate in a club, many participating in two or more. Clubs like Roobotics, our Robotics team has more of a time commitment at lunch and after school in order to prepare for a level of competition. The Poetry club may meet at lunch once or twice a week and can be more of a commitment if you choose. Meeting times are flexible to work with student’s academic, theatre and/or athletics schedule. This list of clubs is as diverse and interesting as our student body! Here is a list of some of our current active clubs and organizations.

Global Travel Program

The Global Travel Program creates opportunities for Upper School students to explore the globe. Travelers go beyond the walls of the classroom to learn science, foreign language and visual and performing arts. The program emphasizes leadership development and cross-cultural competency. Students apply to take part in several small group tours, led by faculty, each year. Some of these immersive journeys have included include Hurricane Island in Maine, Yellowstone National Park, Paris, France and Costa Rica.

2019-2020 Global Travel Trips

Frequently Asked Questions about Global Travel

Cohort Learning

MedEx is a small group mentoring program in which students apply to work with doctors over the course of a year from mid-10th to mid-11th grade.  Typical years allow for two slots for 11th grade students to apply (so they would take part in the program from mid-11th to mid-12th grade)  Students do not need to know if they are interested in medicine as a career; this is a program for learning and exploration. Past field trips have been to the Mutter Museum, the Abington Hospital Simulation Lab and a dialysis unit.  Evening sessions have been about topics like brain function (complete with a dissection), reading x-rays and MRI reports, medical ethics and reproductive rights.

MedEx Application

BizEx is a small group mentoring program in which a group of business professionals will work with students over the course of their 10th and 11th grade years.  The cohort works in teams of students and professionals and  explore principles and concepts of entrepreneurship such as design thinking, developing a plan, marketing and financial literacy.  The goal is for the teams to generate their business ideas, prepare a business and marketing plan and then present their idea to the advisory board for review and critique. The final  businesses will work to refine their ideas and have the option to take it to a competition such as DECA or YEA.

BizEx Application

Service Learning

AFS has partnered with a few fellow non-profits to join together in efforts of stewardship and service learning for our students.

MANNA is an organization which provides meals and warmth to Southeastern Pennsylvania and Souther New Jersey. AFS students visit the MANNA organization to cook, prepare and serve meals. They also meet with administrators at MANNA, some of which are alumni of AFS, to learn about non-profit challenges and rewards. The goal is for our students to participate in project-based extended learning through service rather than just one day of activity.

Jenkintown Food Cupboard provides meals to 90-100 families in Montgomery County, PA each week. AFS students join forces each year to collect food to address hunger in our local area.

Whosoever Gospel Mission is a Christian nonprofit whose purpose is to provide shelter, food, clothing, education, counseling, rehabilitation and other assistance to homeless men, women and children in the Philadelphia region. AFS students join forces again to collect food donations for this organization.

AFS Outside

AFS OUTSIDE (Outdoor Scholarship, Initiative, Discovery and Exploration)

is a school wide outdoor learning program designed to connect children in sustained and meaningful ways with the living world while fully realizing the enormous potential of our beautiful campus.
Compared to a generation ago, children today have dramatically fewer opportunities for unstructured, nature-based play. Veteran teachers and childhood development researchers agree that this kind of play is critical for healthy childhood development.
As students at AFS grow and mature, so too does their relationship with the outdoor world. Play evolves into exploration, research and discovery. By the time they reach Upper School, students are connected to and involved in a larger world of sustainable practice, citizen science and compelling research, both on and off campus.

THE REDBUD NATURE PLAYGROUND
The Redbud Nature Playground includes platforms for creating imaginative settings such as tree forts; areas for building with all sorts of natural materials, spaces for making art and music; and plenty of open areas for running, climbing and playing games. It is the first nature playground in a school in Pennsylvania to be accredited by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Since we opened this playground for our youngest students, schools from all over the country have sent their teachers to learn how we transformed a traditional playground into an inviting outdoor space that encourages learning, discovery and play in a natural setting.

THE HEADWATERS DISCOVERY PLAYGROUND
The Headwaters Discovery Playground is a cutting edge outdoor classroom and free play zone, built to meet the specific needs of our student and program. This playground is designed for students from elementary through their Middle School years. With a village climb, water and sand play, big science pulley and swings, a nature ramble and space for gathering for large and small groups the design combines the best of the traditional childhood experience with our expert knowledge of teaching core subject lessons outdoors. From science and math to art and music, this engaging space allows faculty to take it outside.

CONSERVING OUR CREEK
The AFS campus is home to the headwaters of the Jenkintown Creek, a natural setting for creek walks, stream water quality studies, tree and animal track identification, bird adaptations, wildlife habitat gardening and environmental art projects.
A recent addition to our campus is a new riparian buffer along the creek bed, installed through our partnership with the Tookany/Tacony Frankford (TTF) Watershed Partnership and a Delaware River Restoration Fund grant. Students, teachers and families played an active role in establishing and planting the buffer, which has become another highly utilized site on campus for outdoor exploration and education.
Following the installation of the buffer, the new rain garden sits across from the Headwaters Discovery Playground. Funded through a grant from the William Penn Foundation to our community partner, the Tookany Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, the rain garden improves the health of our creek and watershed, giving students even more opportunities to study birds, insects, and amphibians firsthand.

CITIZEN SCIENTISTS
We are proud to partner with Villanova University the monitoring of our rain garden and stream. On campus weather and stream monitoring stations installed by Villanova allow students in our Upper School program to utilize real-time data for ongoing experiments and reporting about water quality and climate.
Villanova has also installed a flowmeter, located under Meetinghouse Road that measures depth, velocity and the flow of the stream. Within our rain garden Villanova has installed soil measure meters, a bubbler to measure infiltration rates, an autosampler to collect water samples, and pore water samplers.
The rooftop weather station installed by Villanova monitors temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed and wind direction, solar radiation, barometric pressure, heat index, and dew point. This data can provide information about storm duration and intensity. Along with the flowmeter, the data helps us monitor the inflow to and outflow from our creek headwaters.
Want to know what the weather is like on campus? Check out our live weather feed sponsored by Villanova University!

FROM CAMPUS TO ARBORETUM
Through a network of partnerships, AFS has officially turned our campus into an arboretum. We are fortunate to have a diverse canopy of trees, which adds up to a great habitat, a great learning tool and a great resource for the community.

Nine AFS faculty members are fully trained Tree Tenders through our partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and our students in Lower and Middle school actively engage in inventorying and identifying our tree stock and caring for trees as part of the curriculum.With guidance from PHS and Meadowbrook Farm, we have inventoried over 300 trees on campus and are working with a broad partnership of friends, neighbors, teachers and students to develop a tree tour to showcase and share our incredible wealth of trees.

Visit the Abington Friends School Arboretum website.

Senior Capstone

During the month of May, seniors finish their regular class responsibilities and work on their Senior Capstone. The Senior Capstone is a culminating intellectual activity or service project that allows students to explore a passion, idea, or opportunity through in-depth inquiry, work, travel, or service. While collaboration and partnership can occur in Senior Capstones, every senior’s experience will be individual and unique.

AFS seniors can pursue four different options for their Senior Capstone:

Creative Endeavors –  This option is designed to give seniors wide latitude in developing their own Capstone. Students may work alone or in a small group, and all Creative Endeavor proposals will be approved by committee. Student applicants must demonstrate a distinctive level of self-discipline and work ethic in order to be approved for their proposal.

External Internships – Students can apply to work in an unpaid career-based internship at a business or organization. Internships will also be reviewed by a committee of faculty to determine their suitability. Internships cannot be for a family business.

Teaching Internships – Seniors who are interested in working in the AFS Lower or Middle School can apply for a limited number of Teaching Internships. They can request a particular area of the school (Middle School Art, 3rd grade, P.E., etc.) but are not guaranteed that their preference will be available.

Service and Service Learning – Seniors who are interested in giving back to the larger community can develop their own service projects or can apply for a limited number of spots in AFS-sponsored service opportunities. Seniors may choose to develop a service-learning project if they desire greater challenge.

View Senior Capstone 2018 Project Examples

AFS Explore

AFS Explore: Experience, Leadership, Opportunity, Reflection  and Engagement .

AFS Explore is our program that encourages students to explore and experience opportunities of personal interest as a way to further develop their distinctive identities and full potential as passionate learners.  It’s an opportunity for our students to engage in meaningful experiences outside of the traditional school day and reflect on those experiences as they incorporate those experiences to further their personal development and growth as students and as global citizens.

Students who are interested in AFS Explore should make an appointment to see Rosanne in the Center for Experiential Learning.

ExTerm

The ExTerm program offers an experiential, immersive and interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that provides deep engagement with ideas, resources and people. Faculty and students will work together over the course of two weeks to discover passions, explore opportunities and connect with the larger community.

Learn more about ExTerm here.

Here are some images of students on their travels or in their learning cohorts.

  • Studying public health in the Dominican Republic

  • MedEx students observing digital x-rays.

  • Students taking a break from studying to explore the beaches "down under."

  • An AFS "Roo" meeting "real" Kangaroos in Tasmania.

There are always more details on the blog!