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Family Expo 2024
Posted in on April 16, 2024

Family Expo keeps growing

If at first you don’t succeed, try building again.

And again. And again.

Family Expo 2024David Wong and his elementary-age son, Michael, did as much on Saturday during the 5th Annual Arlington ISD Family Expo and Resource Fair at the Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center.

The pair was inside one of two Snapology rooms, where they tirelessly built a spin art creation out of LEGOs while mom recorded the action with her phone.

“We didn’t actually build it correctly the first time, so we had to do some problem-solving,” Wong said afterward. “But the good part is that in building it from scratch a couple of times, he got a chance to learn how to do that, that you can try again and again, and that the initial failure doesn’t mean failure; it means you’re learning.”

Snapology, by the way, is a company that, through its interactive materials, gives families a chance to dive into fun learning experiences with hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities designed to ignite curiosity, foster teamwork, build confidence and, as it proved with the Wongs, enhance problem-solving skills.

“So, our whole approach is playing with kids and showing parents you can take the toys you have at home, and it has educational value in it, especially working as a family,” said Snapology owner Melanie Galaviz. “We try to coach the parents to allow the child to struggle in figuring out how to do this because it builds resilience and problem-solving, even as they play.”

This was the first year the STEAM group was invited to participate in the Family Expo. They came at a good time. Attendance ticked up again this year with over 1.200 registered families.

Arlington ISD family engagement specialist Eric Phillips said over 75 vendors were on hand to provide resources, tips and activities related to STEAM, literacy, toys, technology and social-emotional learning. The main sponsors are Xi Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (AKA) and The Arlington Foundation for Excellence in Education.

“We are trying to create an atmosphere where parents and students can explore their interests and what they want to do while simultaneously giving them exposure to our community partners where they can connect with resources,” Phillips said. “The main thing is providing resources to help slow the summer slide and their learning. The whole goal is to give families the tools and resources they can utilize to keep their kids engaged through the entire summer.”

A’Donna Corbin of AKA said they try to reach out to bring in as many community resources for students and their families as they can.

“They can see what is available,” she said of the participating families. “Every school program you can think about is here. We wanted a family atmosphere to get everyone involved, so we brought in Snapology. AISD was also doing robots and drones. The great part is that whatever the kids build, they can take with them.”

Family Expo 2024

Most of the first floor of the spacious CTC was filled with tables of companies, groups and organizations offering various resources, such as Arlington Charities, Girls., Inc., Tarrant County College Community Outreach and The Ladder Alliance, which provides survivors of domestic violence and low-income women the tools needed to lead self-sufficient lives.

Of course, Arlington ISD features a ton of programs, including its specialized academic services, world languages, health services and postsecondary partnerships.

“This is great,” said Justin Frank, who spent nearly an hour in the Snapology labs with his son, Justin Jr. “Being able to build something and see the fruits of your labor. We recently moved here from south Dallas. We saw this online and thought it would be a great way to spend a Saturday.”

Phillips and AKA’s Corbin want to hear that.

“We always ask, what does the community need?” said Corbin. “We realized that they need more than health and finance. What they really need is access to resources. So, we did a pivot. In the last two years, we have switched to technology. That’s where the world is going.”