This year After-School All-Stars has put a strong priority on project- based learning, as it offers kids more engaging learning opportunities than what is available in most classroom settings. The students were able to get a crash course in forensics through Criminal Scene Investigators Atlanta, a program which teaches children the process of collecting evidence to solve crimes. These methods included going to the scenes of the crimes, taking pictures, writing notes, and testifying in court. CSI Atlanta also taught participants the role that police have in solving crimes. The clinic was divided into several different modules, including fiber identification, powder investigation, body measurement and fingerprint analysis, DNA extraction, and chromatography. Materials such as flashlights, metal tweezers for collecting fibers, masking tape to be used when outlining a victim’s body, and magnifying lenses were used to make this program possible. The students also took a fiber flame test to interpret odors and burns during a fiber analysis. In addition, participants of the CSI Atlanta program learned about the history of body measurements and personal identification systems.
The After-School All-Stars kids also learned about running a zoo by playing Zoo Tycoon and received lessons in history, politics, and geography from the computer game Civilization. Through Zoo Tycoon the students were divided into four groups that represented individual regions of Zoo Atlanta, which were the Asian Forest, African Rain Forest, African Plains, and the Orkins Children Zoo and Wetlands. Furthermore, the students supplemented their learning sessions by watching Madagascar while designing their zoos. At the end the students made decisions on how to generate the most profit from the designs of their zoos.
While playing Civilization the students were taught how to advance their civilizations in different climate regions, used maps to find different parts of the world, constructed buildings, and learned about the rise and fall of empires. The kids also participated in the Hip Hop Studio program to display their musical talents while practicing math, science, English, and other core subject areas. For example, they used the Mac Recording Studio to write songs about evaporation and condensation and created rap lyrics on slavery, the Civil War, and current events regarding politics. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the educational and entertaining opportunities that these projects offered them.