Mar 20, 2018

My Personal Experience...

Volunteers still cheerful after a long day's work!
Volunteers still cheerful after a long day's work!

Every now and then we switch things up!

You are already aware that you enable us to use science to reach kids in Jamaica, but did you know that you also facilitate life-enriching experiences for undergrad student volunteers as well? Here is a description of one student's experience - Thank You for helping us to give her this experience!!

My personal experience...

Teaching the children in Jamaica was such an incredible experience. They were incredibly polite and eager to learn, and it made me wonder if kids here in the United States would have appreciated and grasped what we were doing in the same way that the Jamaican students did. I honestly did not expect the children to be so happy doing science experiments and answering questions. I thought I would have to force them to participate but I was completely wrong. They were incredibly keen and at some points even took the lead in the experiments. As soon as the first group of students came in and put on their lab coats and gloves, one little girl said “Yeah, I change my mind, I want to be a scientist” and it made all the work we put in to prepare for the workshops worth it.

            Preparing for the workshops entailed creating an appropriate lab manual for the students, my first such experience! I thought it would involve throwing out ideas for different experiments and then tailoring the language in a way that made sense to younger children. After completing the manual, I see that there is so much more thought that goes into the design. Presenting them to the studnts experiments was a completely different experience than I expected. The questions we came up with and the specific background information we needed to deliver to the students felt a little foreign when actually standing in front of a group of children. For the most part, delivering the material was easy and came natural, but then there were a few moments where the kids were just so smart and caught me off guard with their questions and my partner had to help me out in answering them. When things didn’t go quite as I had expected them to, I relied on my fellow classmates and if I truly needed their help, I knew they would be there for me.

            The day felt like a blur but also like an entire lifetime all at once. Not only did the students learn from us, but I learned from them as well. I realized that I should expect more from myself, if I can impact over 250 students in one day the way we did, then I can positively influence countless people throughout my lifetime. That day is not one that I will easily forget and I hope that I will make a positive impact on those around me on many more days to come.

Dec 11, 2017

How much does your support mean??

Students enthralled with Anatomy Specimens!
Students enthralled with Anatomy Specimens!

Let’s see…a few short years ago, we launched STEPS based on your support. Each time, we do more and more. As we are just returning from the latest trip, this is just a preliminary report! But, what did you enable us to do this time around? Check it out!

1. We hosted 250 more students @STEPS. Just check out the schools we have reached thus far here - http://thesosa.org/outreach/

2. We ventured out with STEPS to rural Jamaica. We wanted to test how the program would be received outside of the University labs, what we needed to make it successful, what extra considerations would we need to take. The result – STEPS @ STETHS was a success!!

3. Based on the realization that we could reach so many more students with teacher training, we did our 1st hands-on teacher workshop.

4. High school students were exposed to human specimens in anatomy labs. This is university-level stuff! They were fascinated!!

We are now going through the detailed feedback from STEPS@UWI, STEPS@STETHS, and Teacher-STEPS and will let you know further on The Good and The Bad. Directly from the recipients!! Stay tuned….

In the meantime, THANK YOU for your continued support and especially during this period of End-of-Year giving. We really appreciate your support – we are adding #STEAM to #STEM!

Links:

Aug 31, 2017

Aspiring to Inspire STEM!

STEPS students!
STEPS students!

As American student volunteers traveling from the University of Central Florida with project leader and professor, Dr. Danielle Webster, we had the opportunity to collaborate and create the lab manual used to teach science experiments that would inspire Jamaican students to pursue science in their future through the 2016 S.T.E.P.S. workshop. This experience was both challenging and rewarding. However, we found that the cultural exchange of ideas offered an additional benefit to students beyond what could be conveyed through instruction. As international facilitators, we served as culturally different sources of inspiration for the youth of Jamaica to become exposed to different ideas.

Through teaching the students, we learned how eager they are to learn and grow, but outside of the lessons we prepared, some of them had questions about our background as scientists and our schooling. Education has a huge impact on their life. It made such a difference in our lives that we were able to be a part of that experience. We had the opportunity to build on our cultural awareness, innovation, project management, knowledge and skills throughout this course, while ultimately impacting the lives of children who not only deserve the opportunity to further their education, but gained something more than what could be learned through textbooks. Acting as facilitators, we stepped out of our typical roles as students, became teachers, and were astonished by the lessons we were able to instill in the minds of these school-age children in such a short period of time. 

Facilitator Experiences: 

“This ‘study abroad’ type course has impacted my life personally and academically. I have learned so much about Jamaica’s culture and the want for scientific advancement within the country. I have made great friendships along the way and a love of wanting to experience more cultures different from mine own.” - Victoria 

“Knowing that at least one students sacrificed their lunch money to afford the transportation to be there made my role feel that much more important...I appreciated the differences in culture because that enabled me to walk away with new perspective. Not only did it make me thankful for the resources available to me, but there was a learning curve on both sides of our interactions.” - Tiffany 

“...this independent study opened my mind to the process of making sure students get the best out of their education. I never realized the type of work that has to be put into setting up experiments, and writing them in a way that a completely different age group would understand. I think that was the hardest part, for us, since we are used to keeping our minds set on a higher thought process.” - Kirsten 

“My experience abroad was life-changing. Not only did I leave with friendships that will last long past college, but I gained knowledge of a culture so unlike my own. I was reminded how fortunate I am to have the ability to pursue my love of science without barriers. This adventure even helped me solidify my career path...I wish I could put into words how lucky I am to have been afforded the opportunity to participate and help run the 2016 S.T.E.P.S. Workshop.” - Taylan 

Student Feedback from 2016 S.T.E.P.S. Workshop Surveys: 

Question: “Was there any benefit of interacting with the international facilitator? If so, please describe:” 

Answers:

“Yes, because they are taught differently and it was interesting having them teach us.”

“Yes, it shows that no matter your origin you can do anything you put your mind to.”

“Yes we had an international perspective on science.”

“Yes! It actually shows me what the real science world is like and so in the future I can really be better”

I hope you can see through our descriptions that this workshop is creating an impact in more ways than one. Not only will your donations go to improve the resources or methods available for students to have access to science, but inspire cultural connections and ideas to improve the scientific field by working with the future leaders of the STEM field.

STEPS - Student teachers!
STEPS - Student teachers!

Links:

 
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