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
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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Some STEPS 2014 participants
Some STEPS 2014 participants

When SoSA first held our STEPS workshops last year, we had 91 students from 11 primary and secondary schools attending. Thanks to you our donors, we more than doubled that this year with 188 participants from 21 primary secondary schools. Students were hosted by a fantastic team of SoSA volunteers in an advanced Biochemistry Lab at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI, Mona in Kingston, Jamaica.

What was the result? We were able to excite and inspire many students with science. For that, you should take a bow. Thank you!

What did we do with all these kids? Well, we introduced our primary students to the fact that there are tiny critters (organisms) living in water that we cannot see with our naked eyes. These youngsters learned how to use light microscopes to see these tiny creatures, and were excited to see them move and squirm.

Science impacts our everyday lives, and students were fascinated by chemical reactions generated by common household items, some of which were acids and other were bases. The properties (different pHs) of these everyday substances resulted in colour changes in test tubes. How delighted were we to see the excitement on the students faces!

Finally, a bit of physics! This last experiment even excited our volunteers – by rubbing a piece of cloth on a spoon, we used static electricity to separate a mixture of salt from black pepper. The pepper rose from the salt mixture – like magic!

Importantly, our volunteers helped the students to think about all these observations, tying them back to everyday life, ensuring it was a complete learning experience.

Our secondary level students were likewise eager to be part of STEPS. Did you know that you can extract DNA from bananas using salt and dishwashing liquid? Well, our high school students are now experts at that!

We didn’t think it was too early to introduce our students to forensics, and they responded brilliantly. We presented them with a challenge: based on blood and DNA evidence found at the scene of a robbery - which of the four suspects was likely to have been involved in the crime? They examined various stains under the microscope to determine which ones were blood stains.

The thief in question had torn his/her shirt while fleeing the scene, leaving behind pieces of their shirt and blood. The students worked with simulated blood to determine what the blood type of the thief was. When we asked “who did it?” The students then figured out which of the four accused could was the guilty party.

STEPS is a story of all kinds of community. The SoSA membership - passionate about the change that science can bring to every age group in society, determined to use our skills to have a positive impact on humanity. And you – through the GlobalGiving community, seeing value in the work that we are doing and choosing to invest in our project.

To enable these youngsters to bring STEPS back to their schools with even more pride, we gave each of our participants’ badges. They are our now science ambassadors, empowered to help others think differently about science.

We like to think of each of you as integral to their success. Let's all become science ambassadors!

We appreciate your support on GivingTuesday...Thanks all around!

Your SoSA Team.

Revealing tiny critters using a microscope!
Revealing tiny critters using a microscope!
Can high schoolers extract DNA - Sure they can!
Can high schoolers extract DNA - Sure they can!
Are you a science ambassador?
Are you a science ambassador?
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Phase 4 team meeting
Phase 4 team meeting

Our Stem Talent Expansion through Promotion of Sciences (STEPS) program was birthed from the vision that young Jamaicans can transform their challenging environments and the world by embracing, pursuing and applying science. We are elated to report that this year’s STEPS science programs will not just continue, but will expand due to the generous support of all our donors – thank you!

Over the last three months we have been active in the organization of the science workshops for Primary and Secondary students. These will be held on November 20, 2014 on the campus of the University of the West Indies. STEPS is expanding by including more schools and students in this year’s workshops and adding exciting activities not only to engage Jamaican children in science, but empowering them to apply it. Our workshops this year will accommodate 200 students; this is a 100% increase over the capacity last year. Thanks to your generosity, we are also able to include schools not just from Kingston but also from St Catherine and St Ann.

We have also confirmed 43 scientists to participate in career days in 19 high schools – this will expand our reach into a number of schools in Jamaica. For these career days, we have also been preparing videos of ‘scientists in action’. These efforts will expose low-resourced students to the realm of career possibilities in the sciences.

Regarding our science lab construction project, we have received a proposal from a low-resource high school in Kingston with an established need for a science lab. Our committee chair and engineer have already conducted a site visit to explore feasibility.

As you can see, we are well on our way in establishing required partnerships and securing the participation of the relevant stakeholders for the successful and sustainable execution of our projects. Thank you for contributing to STEPS and we look forward to sharing highlights from our November workshop in the next report. We looked forward to your continued support, please continue to spread the word! 

STEPS laboratory manual examination
STEPS laboratory manual examination

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Organization Information

Society for Scientific Advancement

Location: Orlando, FL - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @thesosaorg
Project Leader:
Keriayn Smith
Orlando, Florida United States
$24,024 raised of $35,000 goal
 
506 donations
$10,976 to go
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