Column: Colorado AeroLab steps up for the new school year |

Column: Colorado AeroLab steps up for the new school year

Elaine Menardi
Guest column

With less than a month before the first day, families are faced with big questions and important decisions about getting kids back to school. For families worried about the struggle with online education and the new in-school formats, there is hope being offered by Colorado AeroLab, or CAL.

The abrupt shift to remote learning last spring was tough for everyone and disrupted education in ways we have yet to fully uncover. Some students and parents found greater flexibility and freedom in the online model; others struggled. With all the good planning and ideas for reopening schools next month, we are still in the throes of uncertainty and need to remain vigilant and flexible as our children return to the buildings.

Colorado AeroLab is offering an option called MicroPods for families who want to do small group learning using online resources and in-person, hands-on projects. A MicroPod is a small group of 5-10 students who choose to learn together in a one-room schoolhouse type of setting. MicroPods meet weekly in-person with the same group of students throughout the year to complete their academic work, socialize with peers, do project-based learning and fulfill the requirements for their distance learning classes.

How much do MicroPods cost?

Colorado AeroLab will organize and facilitate the MicroPod program. A nominal per-student fee will be charged to help cover basic expenses. Final costs will be determined based on how many students and families want to participate.

Students who will be in grades 3-12 in fall 2020 are eligible to join a MicroPod. We are working with local community and business leaders to find meeting spaces across Grand County and will try to match students with MicroPods located nearest their home. Families will be responsible for transporting their children to/from learning sites.

How often do MicroPods meet?

MicroPods will meet daily on Mondays through Thursdays. Students may also choose to participate in CAL’s Fifth Day programs on Fridays. The times and duration of sessions on MicroPod days will be determined by how many students and families want to participate.

Students will need to enroll in a distance learning option of their choice, either through their local school district, in another online school or in a homeschool program.

Each MicroPod day will look a little different. Every day will include some time for whatever formal schoolwork kids need to complete. We will also have plenty of time to focus on physical activity and small group fun through design challenges, hands-on experiments, and Genius Hour where kids can explore their own passion projects.

MicroPods will be facilitated by a trained Learning Coach under the supervision and direction of the CAL staff who each have more than 20 years of experience as educational leaders and hold Professional Teaching and Administrator licenses in Colorado. Parent volunteers are welcome and encouraged to help at MicroPods. All persons interacting with students will be required to pass a background check and submit fingerprints.

Pre-registration for MicroPods is open and a limited number of spaces is available. Check the CAL website for more information at Reach out to us at

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