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May 19, 2014
What comes to mind when you look back on your elementary school years? At this point in my adult life, the memories have become fewer in number. I remember my first grade teacher's pet hedgehog, field day, a musical performance put on by the third grade about dinosaurs, and of course all of the fun science experiments that we got to do in class. In particular, I will never forget watching my baking soda volcano erupt all over the sidewalk near the playground. It tends to be these interactive activities that really get kids excited about science for the first time. Research shows that students care about science more when they are exposed to real-life connections. I know that for me, I don't remember the worksheets; I remember those engaging experiments in which I truly saw science in action.
For some children, however, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education can be difficult to access.Females and minority students in particular remain very underrepresented in STEM college departments and fields around the county. “In Larimer County, transportation barriers and program fees are often the factors preventing many children from accessing STEM activities.” Beth Jarrett explains. "Our volunteers take STEM kits out into the community where students are already located like recreation centers, schools, non-profits, and neighborhoods." Beth is an Americorps member serving with Larimer County 4-H, and is also the first to implement a 4-H youth development program called Science Out-of-School in Larimer County. The mission of the Science Out-of-School program is to provide free after-school science programming to 3rd-5th graders. The program utilizes volunteers in varying capacities to get the children excited about science. Activity Leaders facilitate hands on learning, while Assistant Leaders help with set-up, material distribution, and student support. STEM mentors can speak about their career, give demonstrations, or even give the children a tour of their work place. "A science background is helpful, but not necessary," Beth explains. "Science Out-of-School provides volunteers with all the information that they will need to know before leading an activity."
Here at United Way of Larimer County, we believe that education is one of the building blocks for a better life. By partnering with programs like Science Out-of-School that help underrepresented children access quality education, we can drive lasting community change. Together, we can accomplish more than any one organization can do alone. United Way of Larimer County advocates that you take the challenge of becoming a volunteer reader, tutor, or mentor at one of the amazing education-focused organizations in our community. By signing up for our Readers, Tutors, Mentors volunteer referral service, you can take the first step in becoming part of the change.
Take the challenge to become a Reader, Tutor, or Mentor today
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