This student outreach program allows approximately 20 juniors and seniors to volunteer to help teach science lessons at local elementary schools. The program grew out of the EnLiST teacher training workshops that are offered at UIUC. Pat Shapley (a Uni parent and former professor of chemistry) designed the chemistry portion of EnLiST. In the summer of 2011, several upper chemistry Uni students assisted in the teacher workshop and their participation was highly commended. Some teachers even conspired to "kidnap" them and take them back to school in the fall. This activated a plan to create a group of Uni student volunteers to work with kids at two nearby schools: Booker T. Washington in Campaign and Martin Luther King Jr. in Urbana.
Now four years into the program, Uni student volunteers continue their service in the ELL classroom of Ms. Shalonda Car at MLK. After the retirement of Pat Shapley, Christian Ray from UIUC General Chemistry has taken on lesson development. This has become an effective collaboration because we have motivated and willing partners from the UIUC campus as well as the local community. While the focus is on the learning experiences of the young children in the classroom, the high school volunteers have also benefitted greatly from the experience of practicing public engagement.
Students involved in the program have had thoroughly enjoyed the experience as they state:
"Every time I step into Ms. Carr’s classroom, I can't help smiling. Whether we're learning about seeds or levers, the students are almost overflowing with questions and insights. I have learned as much from them as they have from any lesson! Sharing science with these inquisitive minds and watching them blossom over the last two years has been amazing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help foster their curiosity and introduce them to science."
"I enjoy working with the King students because they're always very excited to see us and enthusiastic about learning and trying new experiments. It's almost a fight for them for who can answer questions correctly to impress us "teachers", but they always impress me no matter what! Since I want to work with children in the future, I really like being able to see how they learn and what interests them. Even though I only see them every other week for an hour, they've definitely impacted me positively and have reinforced my desire to teach. "
"I thought it was a really cool experience. I could tell how excited the kids were to learn about the science topics that we discussed, and there's nothing more rewarding than seeing kids enjoy learning in fun ways. The small group environment was nice, everyone had a chance to share ideas, but I didn't feel like we (the teachers) were dominating the lesson. The kids had a lot of input, and I'm definitely glad that I signed up to help at MLK!"
Students that want to learn more or participate in this program should contact David Bergandine (dbergand)