Category Archives: Tweens

KID Museum’s Invent the Future Challenge

Photo Credit: Edwin Remsberg Photography

[Note: As I mentioned in my recent post about Dr. Jane Goodall coming to DC, I want to highlight local ways that kids and families can take action against climate change. As Goodall suggested, this action can begin with everyday choices — what we buy, what we eat, what we wear, etc. However, this guest post by Emily Moise from KID Museum shares a way for kids to truly take things into their own hands.]

KID Museum, the creative, hands-on learning space in Bethesda, MD, is challenging middle schoolers across the region to create an invention that will solve an environmental problem.

The Invent the Future Challenge, now in its third year, is part of the museum’s invention programming amplified by a district-wide partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Almost 1,000 kids participated in last year’s challenge, and the museum seeks to double that this year by reaching more schools and students beyond MCPS.

The challenge question is a big one — What will you make to protect life on this planet? — but the guidelines are simple:

  • Form a team of 3-6 middle school students and one adult team coordinator.
  • Make a physical representation of your invention.
  • Spend no more than $60 on materials for your invention.
  • Present at the Challenge Summit in May for a chance to win awards & prizes.
  • Photo Credit: Edwin Remsberg Photography

    Kids can get involved in the challenge through STEM-focused clubs and teachers at school, or on their own with a parent coordinator. School groups can visit KID Museum for Invention Studio field trips — skill-building sessions in design, engineering, electronics, coding, and prototyping — or through Invent the Future weekend workshops at the museum.

    Previous award winners include a “smart tree” for early-detection of forest fires, a coded water-rationing device for showers, and solar panels that double as advertising on buses and buildings. Winners received tickets to local amusement parks and awards to display at their schools, and were invited to exhibit at FutureFest, KID Museum’s annual family festival.

    And for the grown-ups, there are other ways to get involved in the challenge and support KID Museum’s mission to inspire the next generation of changemakers. You can serve as a mentor at an Innovation Exchange or as a judge at the Challenge Summit. The Summit is also open to the public and should make you very hopeful for the future!

    Visit for more information and to get started today. Registration is open now through January 31, 2020.

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    Filed under 2019, 2020, Competition, DC, Educational, Middle Schoolers, Special Event, Tweens

    A Unique Educational Experience at Sandy Spring Friends School

    [Note: This is a Sponsored Guest Post contributed by the staff at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, MD.]

    Are you searching for the perfect school for your child? If you are seeking a unique educational experience that provides small classes and personalized learning; an inquiry-based approach to academics where our hands-on (project-based) curriculum takes place inside the classroom and across our beautiful 140-acre campus; and a character-based education that fosters critical thinking and empowers students to make the world a better place, then you should check out Sandy Spring Friends School.

    A Personalized Approach
    Founded in 1961, Sandy Spring Friends School (SSFS) enrolls just over 600 students from age 3 to 12th grade, a “just-right” size that allows students to be part of a diverse community of learners (including a robust international student population in the Upper School), while also allowing for an intimate classroom setting. With class sizes maxing out at 16 students, our first-rate teachers can offer personalized attention and cultivate each student’s talents and interests.

    Teachers at SSFS know their students well and along with guiding them toward success in the classroom, they can help direct students and families towards in-house support they need to help them thrive. From a Student Resource Team to our Learning Resource Collaborative, support staff help students achieve academic success as well as improve their skills in self-awareness, self-advocacy, and independence.

    Hands-On and Experiential Learning
    At SSFS, the curriculum is informed by the latest scientific research on how the brain works and learns best. With continual professional development on mind-brain education, our teachers learn to effectively apply these best practices into their classrooms. When the mind-brain approach to teaching is combined with the benefits of learning in nature, you experience the magic that is Sandy Spring Friends School.

    The 140-acre campus provides many unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Wide-open spaces and a natural playground are used daily for exploration and play. Additionally, the campus includes a farm, a pond, an old-growth forest, a stream that feeds into the Anacostia Watershed, six miles of cross-country trails, and an aerial adventure park adjacent to the School.

    The Lower School program takes advantage of these assets through a variety of learning activities. Students tap maple trees and re-enact the Oregon Trail experience in the fall, and make regular visits to the pond throughout the spring to see for themselves how tadpoles develop into frogs. A Farming Program engages students in inquiry-based learning as they reflect on their explorations, record their experiences, and formulate their own conclusions.

    Classes in all divisions use the campus environs not only to expand students’ scientific thinking but also to further develop their understanding of stewardship and continual care of the earth. Seventh graders spend time studying sustainable agriculture methods on our campus’s organic farm. Upper School students use the farm and school land for scientific field study in Biology, Geology, and AP Environmental Science courses. Upper School students even utilize the farm for athletic conditioning (not many other DC-area school athletic departments can boast a “Farming for Fitness” class!).

    A Values-Based Education
    Strong academic, arts, and athletics programs are vital components of a college preparatory school—and indeed, SSFS seniors are accepted at selective colleges and universities across the country and around the world. However, for Sandy Spring Friends School, our education extends beyond what our students know and focuses on who our students become.  

    The School’s values are rooted in Quakerism, which has a long history of commitment to social justice, equality, integrity, and peaceful resolution of conflict. SSFS focuses on instilling the Quaker SPICES— Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship— into each child, from preschool (age 3) all the way to senior year.   SSFS offers distinctive programming that integrates the SPICES throughout the school year:

  • Each division participates weekly in Meeting For Worship, a meditative practice which offers time for quiet reflection for students.
  • Students participate in social-emotional education that teaches students from an early age how to navigate conflict peacefully and respectfully.
  • Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools have a student body government, where students using consensus to select leadership.
  • A Senior-Buddy Program pairs up 12th graders with Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st-grade students. The groups get together several times throughout the year for lunches and playdates, forming special bonds of friendship between the oldest and youngest students on campus.
  • A “Community Day” in the fall and an “Our People, Our Planet Day” in the spring bring the entire preschool–12th-grade community together for environmental stewardship projects, reflection, team-building games, and opportunities to learn more about the various cultures represented by the School’s diverse student body.

  • Come and See Us In Action!

    Fall Open House | Sunday, October 20, 2019, 1-3:30pm
    Preschool-12th grade families are invited to come and meet our community of scholars, performers, thinkers, and doers. During our Open House, you will have the opportunity to tour our amazing 140 acre campus, meet our dynamic faculty, students, and parents, and visit our classrooms and facilities. Can’t make it to the open house? Schedule a private tour by emailing us at

    Snapshot Days | November 12 & November 19, 2019 • 9-10am
    Preschool and Kindergarten families are invited to join us for a Snapshot Day on our beautiful campus! Snapshot Days allow a first-hand peek into our Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms for you and your child. Your little learner will spend one hour exploring our classrooms while you have an opportunity to speak briefly with teachers, administrators, and other parents; ask questions; and see our program in action. You may also sign up for an optional campus tour.

    This post is sponsored by Sandy Spring Friends School, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.

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    Filed under 2019, DC, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Guest Post, Maryland, Middle Schoolers, School Event, Schools, Teens, Tweens, Weekdays

    T(w)een Scene: First Show at the 9:30 Club — with Mom!

    Taking kids to concerts might not be a new thing for many parents. Plenty of moms and dads have indulged young fans of Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, and other popular artists and acts that perform at large venues like Verizon Center, Merriweather, and Nationals Park.

    But a concert at the 9:30 Club wasn’t something I’d ever really considered for a kid. In all the years I’d gone to shows there (a long time, even at the original 930 F Street location…and, oof, now I’m totally dating myself), I just didn’t think of it as a bring-your-kids-along kind of place.

    Until last spring, that is. I had just snagged a couple of tickets to see Kishi Bashi, whose music I have loved for years, and who would be playing the 9:30 in June. His new album Omoiyari had just been released, and I was listening to it pretty obsessively, playing it a lot in the house. I knew Owen enjoyed Kishi Bashi before that, but he really dug the new album, often asking me to turn it up or play again.

    Dad joins on sax for a song

    Then, I had a perfect idea: I should bring Owen to the concert. Sometimes when there’s going to be a show I really want to see, I just go ahead and get a couple of tickets without making plans with anyone to join me, figuring someone — Levi or a friend — will want to go. That was the case with the Kishi Bashi tickets. I had the extra ticket, with no claim to it by anyone else, so it would be Owen’s.

    I checked the 9:30 Club website to make sure he could attend a show, and the FAQ section says that “Unless otherwise posted our club is all-ages, all the time.” They didn’t otherwise post for the Kishi Bashi concert, so we were good to go. I kept it a surprise until school was done a couple of weeks before the concert date. It would make for a cool end-of-7th-grade gift that he would be super psyched about.

    And boy was he, both when he found out he was going and at the concert. It turned out the show was seated (a first of the all the times I’ve been to the 9:30 Club), which was nice for a first show there and kind of perfect for this particular concert. We got there pretty early and lined up outside before doors opened. When we went in, I think they gave Owen a special underage double stamp, then we grabbed a couple of seats in the second row once inside. While Owen saved them, I ordered sandwiches for us, so we could have a little dinner before the music started. It was all quite orderly and civilized — amazing what seating can do!

    Encore within the audience

    As for the concert, it was phenomenal, one of the best I’ve ever been to at the 9:30 Club. That’s partly because Kishi Bashi is so damn talented, partly the seats in the second row, partly the touching song he performed with his father on saxophone, and partly that he came into the audience for the encore and played a little acoustic set with all of us surrounding him making it feel intimate and like we were all in the best place to be at that time. But, mostly, what made the experience so special was sharing it with Owen and seeing how much he enjoyed and appreciated it. He wasn’t even embarrassed by my dancing.

    So, I’m not saying everyone should get their kids to the 9:30 Club stat (could you imagine the wrath of all the single millennials?!). But if a particular band or artist your kid (or you) likes is going to be playing there, and you want to enjoy some live music together, know that you most likely can. And while I think 13 was a good age to be there, shows are all-ages (unless otherwise posted) — parents are the best judges of what’s appropriate for their children.

    The 9:30 Club is located at 815 V Street NW. See what concerts are coming up soon!

    PS: Since I’ve gushed about the show so much, here’s a quick clip from the encore that still gives me goosebumps when I watch…


    Filed under DC, Live Entertainment, Music, Teens, Tweens, Weekdays, Weekend

    National Children’s Chorus Holding Auditions on October 18th!

    Looking to get your child involved in the arts with one of the premier choral organizations in the country? The National Children’s Chorus based near Thomas Circle in Washington, DC, is holding auditions on October 18 for children ages 5 to 18, offering the opportunity to learn and grow in an extraordinary musical environment. Recent and upcoming performances include the Kennedy Center and Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, in addition to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and internationally every summer!

    The finest instructors work with students weekly to develop their vocal skills from the most basic concepts through the college level. Tone quality, breath support, and musical expression are cultivated within the individual singers, while working together as an ensemble culminates in world-class performances. With a spectacular musicianship curriculum to accompany its first-rate vocal training, the National Children’s Chorus is an unparalleled educational resource for children who love to sing. If your child has musical ability, don’t waste another minute!

    Auditions will take place on October 18, 2019 at Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001. Children ages 5 to 18 are invited to apply. Set up an audition today!

    This post is sponsored by the National Children’s Chorus, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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    Filed under 2019, Gradeschoolers, Music, Teens, Tweens

    Giveaway: Brave Your Adventure at the Kids Obstacle Challenge!

    Want to embark on an adventure that is as active and challenging and as it is fun and rewarding?

    The Kids Obstacle Challenge is the nation’s premier obstacle course race series for kids ages 5-16 — and it’s coming to the DC area this summer! The family-friendly event will be charging into Centreville, VA, at the Bull Run Special Events Center on June 29. This unique venue, located near routes 66 and 29, features grassy areas and wide open space, a perfect setting for families to enjoy a one-of-a-kind adventure in the great outdoors.

    The course is a fun and challenging 1.5-2 miles, specially made for this DC kids event. It includes 13 to 15 distinctive obstacles that range in difficulty, so KOC is just as fun for a 5-year-old as it is for a 16-year-old — and, of course, for parents. Families will enjoy traversing rock walls, army crawling through mud pits, rope swinging over water, scaling up rugged cargo nets, and much more.

    ​Parents and caregivers are encouraged to get out and active alongside their kids, so two parents/legal guardians can join the Kids Obstacle Challenge for free with their child(ren). It’s a great opportunity to show kids the importance of an active lifestyle by participating with them, all while having a blast and spending quality time as a family.

    The cost per child to the Kids Obstacle Challenge is $44 for early bird sign up (spots are going fast) or $52 regular fee — register online here. And you can get 15% off with the code BEBRAVE. As mentioned, two parents/legal guardians can participate for free. You can also try to win entry for two children through the giveaway below.

    Get dirty. Have fun. Be a family. Brave Your Adventure together!

    * * * * *

    Giveaway: For a chance to win two tickets (entry for two children) to the Kids Obstacle Challenge at the Bull Run Special Events Center in Sully, VA, on July 29, 2019, simply leave a comment below telling me what kind of obstacle your child is most excited to conquer. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through June 9, 2019, then a winner will be picked at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

    This post is sponsored by Kids Obstacle Challenge, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.


    Filed under 2019, Competition, Giveaway, Gradeschoolers, Middle Schoolers, Outdoor, Special Event, Summer, Teens, Tweens, Virginia, Weekend