Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science

by Society for Scientific Advancement
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Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Uplift Jamaican Schoolchildren Through Science
Oh yes! Budding scientists!!!
Oh yes! Budding scientists!!!

We often report the impact our programs have on students in Jamaica. This time around, we thought we would share the impact on some of our volunteers - who happen to be undergraduate students themselves! 

When asked - Overall what did you take away from the overall experience?

“I took away the idea that we can all make a difference in this world whether it is big or small. Something as simple as doing a science experiment with the elementary school kids made such an impact on them and gave them something to look forward to. I believe that because of this trip, I have become more grateful for the opportunities I have been given and have seen a new aspect of the world that I know I can continue to impact as I grow up,” – KW 

When asked - How has the experience impacted your career outlook?

“This experience has only strengthened my goals of working to care for people,” – ES 

When asked - What impacted you the most?

“The children’s personalities and expressions throughout the workshop impacted me the most. Seeing how excited they were about science was what we were waiting for, and really was amazing to see come to life!” – MD 

When asked - How did the workshop experience complement your area of study?

“Being that I’ve studied Biology and Health Sciences teaching and explaining the experiments with the students was a test of my knowledge. I had to think back to previous education of when I learned the water cycle and about microbes in pond water. Putting my knowledge about blood typing was rewarding because of how fascinated the students were to learn about it, the experience reminded me of how fascinated I was when I first learned about it too,” – AM 

 

We are thrilled that STEPS is impacting not just the initial intended target audience, but these young volunteers too! Reaching GenerationNEXT across the board! 

We look forward to your continued support so that we may continue to do this work. Thank you & Stay tuned for more updates!!!

Together we can!
Together we can!
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Dr. Webster interviewing a primary school student
Dr. Webster interviewing a primary school student

November is SoSA’s busiest month! Yes, we hosted our 4th Annual Conference. Yes, we launched a symposium focused on ‘science policy’ and ‘the business of science’. But…a major driving force behind all that we do is reaching GenerationNext! And in the recent workshop on November 19th, we hosted nearly 150 primary and high school students in an advanced Biochemistry lab at the University of the West Indies to do hands-on science activities!

Primary school students came from Allman Town Primary, St. Catherine Primary, Dunrobin Primary, Spanish Town Primary, Shortwood Practising and Half Way Tree Primary and gee, did they melt our hearts with their enthusiasm and zeal for learning!

Why were they excited you ask?

Because, they got to see microscopic critters wriggling around in water from different sources – pond water, ‘dirty water’ from mud, and tap water.

Because, they learnt to ‘make clouds rain’ using shaving cream, water and food coloring.

And because, they left grasping the idea of density and surface tension using different liquids such as milk, honey, oil and dish soap by making ‘tie-dye milk’ and density columns. Here, most of the programs were done with common household items so that these kids can continue to explore the world of science when they go home and back to class!

High school students came from Bridgeport High, Holy Childhood High, Jamaica College, Dunoon Technical and Norman Manley High, and we took these high-schoolers on a journey into forensic science – simulated – CSI style!  The task put to them was to identify a robber who got into a physical altercation with a homeowner at the scene of a burglary, and these young minds jumped right in! The excitement showed on their faces as they identified ‘blood splatter’ from the robber which glowed in the darkened room, did ‘blood-typing’ to eliminate suspects and even simulated DNA fingerprinting to identify the culprit.  

What was the result? A ‘can-do’ attitude. Students expressed newfound excitement for science! Students expressed that science can in fact be fun and exciting! And most of all, students express that they find that science is something that they can do and look forward to in the future! Oh yes, we were thrilled to hear this.

Another fulfilling aspect for us – the volunteer pool of young people that facilitated this workshop. In addition to SoSA’s dedicated members, a group of 12 undergraduates and recent graduates from the University of Central Florida travelled to Jamaica to volunteer to deliver STEPS to these students. Can you say gung-ho? Oh yes, the tie-dye shirts tell the story!

We are crunching the numbers on the feedback from student participants, so next time we will have numbers for you! Please continue to spread the word on the difference these programs are having on Jamaican youth – we thoroughly enjoy carrying on this work. Thank you for your support!!

STEPS in action!
STEPS in action!
Tie-dye shirts for tie-dye experiments, UCF group!
Tie-dye shirts for tie-dye experiments, UCF group!
The STEPS masses!
The STEPS masses!

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Dr. Picking at St. Andrew's High School
Dr. Picking at St. Andrew's High School

Given the overwhelmingly passionate response from the students we visited on their schools’ Career Days last time and our own excitement, it’s no surprise that we continued to connect Jamaican youth with established scientists. Our road trips this time took us to St. Andrew’s High School for Girls and Oberlin High School. 

At Andrew’s (as it’s affectionately called) we were given the opportunity to address two different grade nine groups.  Dr. David Picking was up first, with a group of 20 young ladies. Based on the questionnaires they filled out, Dr. Picking was able to make 80% of them more excited about science and all of them confessed to learning from their interaction with him. Dr. Benkebler spoke with 40 young ladies. Many of them were more excited about science and 80% told us they learned from his talk. 

We then headed into rural St. Andrew to spend some time with 70 grade nine students from Oberlin High. Prof. Paul Reese led the discussion and the students loved spending time with him. In fact, 100% of them reported being more excited about science and 100% said they learned from his talk. 

Our  foray into Jamaica’s high schools is SoSA's newest activity. Why did we do it? Based on our own experiences, we realised our younger selves would have really appreciated having local scientists help us answer questions about our potential future path. It’s a tense period – everyone is expecting you to make choices about what subjects to study. What if you pick the wrong ones? What if you want to change your mind? What does it mean to be a scientist anyway? And who better to answer those questions than people who had also had them before – us? We are excited to help youth answer these questions. We are grateful to be given the opportunity to volunteer by these high schools. We are thankful for our volunteer speakers. And we are beyond thankful that you choose to invest in us so we can invest in them. Stay tuned for more S.T.E.P.S. and look out for our Each One Reach One Campaign!

Dr. Picking and students from St. Andrew High
Dr. Picking and students from St. Andrew High
Dr. Benkebler providing some career advice
Dr. Benkebler providing some career advice
One of the young ladies raises a question
One of the young ladies raises a question
Prof. Reese accepts a token from Oberlin High
Prof. Reese accepts a token from Oberlin High
Students with further questions for Prof. Reese
Students with further questions for Prof. Reese

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Holy Childhood students speaking with Dr. Daley
Holy Childhood students speaking with Dr. Daley

We admit it: spending time with young people in the lab & watching the joy of discovery on their faces is addictive. As we thought about how to encourage more youth to consider investing in science, it hit us – we should, as scientists ourselves, request permission to address students during their Career Days. Our Science Policy committee got to work driving this initiative and we are happy to say the data is back from the first two schools (Holy Childhood High & Merl Grove High, Kingston, Jamaica). 

We were privileged to be able to spend two days with the ladies of Holy Childhood. More than 200 grade 9 students attended, 80% of whom told us they were more excited about science as a result of our talk and 90% said they learned from the talk. On day two, 70 grade 10 students attended the career talk, 90% of whom reported being more excited about science and 94% said they learned something from the career talk. 

It was then time to move on to Merl Grove High. Again, 90% of the students were more excited about science after the career talk & 100% reported learning something. Not bad for our first time out. 

We are grateful that the principals of these schools allowed us to interact with their students during a period of their lives when they’re making choices that will impact the career path they take. We are blown away to be so well received. We are planning to address more high school students & are committed to finding more ways to inspire & empower them through science. None of this would be possible without our volunteers & your support. Thank you!!! Who knows what else we can accomplish together? 

Dr. Daly captured the students' attention
Dr. Daly captured the students' attention
Dr. Singh-Wilmot addresses the Merl Grove students
Dr. Singh-Wilmot addresses the Merl Grove students
Many had additional questions for Dr. Singh-Wilmot
Many had additional questions for Dr. Singh-Wilmot

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Some S.T.E.P.S. ambassadors at the end of the day
Some S.T.E.P.S. ambassadors at the end of the day

Now that the adrenaline has worn off & we’ve had some time to recover from hosting almost 200 students at our S.T.E.P.S. workshop last November, we’ve been going through our feedback forms. Every S.T.E.P.S. participant was asked to complete a short questionnaire. Sure, they look happy to be in the lab, but are we making any kind of difference?

We are happy to report that almost all our primary students (92%) have been thinking about attending university when they grow up and 73% had been thinking about maybe becoming a scientist. After seeing first-hand the microscopic critters wiggling in pond water, doing some chemistry with household items & using physics to separate salt from pepper, 98% of the students wanted to go to college and 90% wanted to do science. Wow!

Our high school students had similarly been thinking about going to university (94%) which we all agree is a good thing. We spent several hours with them extracting DNA from bananas, looking at DNA under microscopes and using forensics to solve a crime. After all of that, 97% of the students told us they now wanted to attend college and the percentage of high schoolers who wanted to pursue science climbed from 44% all the way to 64%. 

We are excited to be able to inspire #GenerationNext & full of hope for where their future discoveries will take us. This is a journey we take together, with the donations you give us & the labour of our volunteers. We are very grateful to be able to partner with you to effect change in the youth of Jamaica. Thank you so much!

Today, DNA extraction; tomorrow an innovative cure?

Feedback from one of our primary students
Feedback from one of our primary students
Chemistry is serious business.
Chemistry is serious business.
Yes, but what does DNA look like?
Yes, but what does DNA look like?
Feedback from one of our high school students
Feedback from one of our high school students
Today, DNA extraction; tomorrow an innovative cure
Today, DNA extraction; tomorrow an innovative cure

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Society for Scientific Advancement

Location: Orlando, FL - USA
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Twitter: @thesosaorg
Project Leader:
Keriayn Smith
Orlando, FL United States
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