Saturday, October 24, 2009

Light a Candle in the Darkness: Volunteering for Science in Your Community

Photo Source: Modesto Bee

I noticed some of my comic strips were running a theme of volunteerism this week. Well, now my blog is too (and this would also by my contribution to this month's Accretionary Wedge)...

Here in California, K-12 education is in pretty much a chaotic mess, and our children are being shortchanged in the worst way. Class size is growing, budgets are getting slashed, and some of our best teachers are being fired. These are bleak times, and our community college system is no better off. But I am proud of what my colleagues at Modesto Junior College are doing. You can read the story here, but in short we are bringing fifth graders onto our campus every other Friday to give them an experience in science and to introduce them to our college campus. Most of our division (biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences) is volunteering to make the program a success. From the article:

About 60 students watched and performed experiments as part of MJC's Science Educational Encounters for Kids. Every second and fourth Friday of the month, fifth-graders converge on campus for a science lecture and then two 45-minute labs.

"We are drawing members of the community into the college. Some of these students maybe don't think college is a possibility, and we want to show them this is their community college," said Brian Sanders, dean of MJC's science, math and engineering division.

"Activities are a blend of fun and interest with real science," Sanders said. "We're not just playing with bubbles. We're matching the labs with the state's fifth-grade science standards."

And...these kids are a lot of fun, too. Full of energy and enthusiasm! Contact me if you would like more info on how we set up the program (hayesg at mjc dot edu).


Gaelyn said...

I love this idea Garry, and am so glad it's working in your community. I'm thinking of contacting our local school to see about giving a presentation on Grand Canyon geology. Some kids will get excited about science. Thanks for the inspiration!

Garry Hayes said...

The kids would be really impressed to see a real ranger!