III. Implementation (cont'd.)

F. Science Outreach Programs

Our science outreach programs range from one-shot Saturday Science programs or laser demonstrations for tour groups, to several-week programs for defined youth groups, to ongoing science clubs for a changing group of youngsters or teens at a particular site. Overall, well over 1000 young people have taken part in one or more science experiments during the past year through some 50 separate sessions. This does not include the hundreds of participants at our two partner elementary schools in Pontiac and Ypsilanti, who do hands-on science several times per week. Details of particular programs follow.

Alternative Spring Break

Date: March 4–7, 1997   Participants: 20–40/day, ages 5–12
Site: Charleston Boys and Girls Club   Providers: 10 Reach Out! members and other UM students

Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is a service-learning opportunity committed to community service and social change. Instead of a recreational spring break, students choose projects that help others. The Undergraduate Engineering Office provided the $1000 fee for the program, supporting CUOS outreach efforts to bring four days of hands-on science demonstrations and experiments to children in the Boston area. Lessons and kits came from our K–12 Outreach Lab, with some materials procured on site. Overall, the program was well received and went smoothly. In 1998, this group will be starting a new site doing hands-on science with Haitian refugee children in Miami, while we support a CEW-sponsored group at the Massachusetts site.

Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP)

Date: March 3–April 19,1997   Participants: 15 - 7th and 8th graders
Site: CUOS   Providers: 3 UM students; 4 faculty; 3 staff

DAPCEP was initiated to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students who are motivated and prepared academically to choose careers in science, engineering, and other technical fields. The University of Michigan College of Engineering is a co-founding member and several departments and groups participate in DAPCEP initiatives. The CUOS-sponsored DAPCEP group focused on Exploring Technical Careers. Weekly topics included Power Resources, Optics, General Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Weekly activities included a presentation, guest instructor, a hands-on experience, an open discussion period, and tours.

Many of this year's students had participated in DAPCEP in past years. Twenty-seven percent had participated in the program for four years; 20% for three years; 26% for two years; and, 13% for one year. Only 14% had had no previous DAPCEP experience.

DAPCEP was evaluated in three phases—weekly and at the end of the program by participants, and an overall evaluation by the program's coordinators. Students were given weekly evaluation sheets to rate their understanding of concepts presented, to determine if the instructor kept their attention, and to assess whether the pace of the class was appropriate. For the most part, students were comfortable with the lessons and felt the instructors helped them understand the material. Students also felt the instructors kept their attention and the pace of the presentations was just right. A final evaluation survey was given to students at the end of the program. The overall results indicate that the program was successful in broadening students' view of science and engineering, in strengthening their desire to study engineering, and in giving them hands-on experience in science activities. Program Coordinators conducted an overall evaluation of the program and made these suggestions: incorporate more challenging assignments to help students work on their problem-solving skills; and give guests a time limit on "textbook and lecture" presentations while encouraging them to include hands-on activities.

CUOS outreach staff members have decided to let another university unit take over the EECS Department DAPCEP group in 1998. We had begun to question the impact of the program, given how expensive and labor-intensive it was for the number of young people served. Although we agree that it would likely take more than one such exposure to actively encourage a disadvantaged youngster to pursue an engineering career, the same high achievers seem to take the slots year after year. At the same time, the program does not establish the long-term relationships we are finding to be key to actually changing lives. We have also taken to heart the importance of fostering a learning community where we live; there is no shortage of needy and at-risk young people much closer to the UM campus where we can interact with them on a reliable and long-term basis.

Chapelle Science Day

Date: 11/18/97   Participants: 20 in tutor/mentor program
Site: Chapelle Elementary, Ypsilanti   Providers: 4 UM undergraduate students

Participants in the NSBE tutor/mentoring program at Chapelle School made rocket cars with volunteers solicited by a Reach Out! member. Other such science days are planned.

Future Science: Future Engineering

Future Science: Future Engineering is a one-week, day program for girls who have completed 7th or 8th grade. Each day features hands-on laboratory experiments, computer activities, and introductions to on-line network systems. Participants meet female scientists and engineers and obtain career information. The program is sponsored by the University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women (CEW) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, in cooperation with the UM Medical School, College of Engineering, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA).

It is unfortunate that, after a very successful, six-year relationship, CUOS will no longer be a part of the Future Science: Future Engineering program. The Engineering Focus Project was omitted from the 1997 program after CUOS had planned, submitted, and received approval of a proposed curriculum. Primary program sponsor CEW decided that the CUOS format was no longer compatible with the curriculum developed in the other focus projects. There was also concern that the Engineering Focus Project was to be presented by an undergraduate student, who presumably was "not equipped to discuss career options based on her limited experience." It was also noted that activities we proposed "can be duplicated in a school room or museum" and that likely participants would have already experienced (in other enrichment programs or in their own classrooms) many of them. That may very well be true. Once FS:FE moved from the subsidized residential program of SummerScience for Girls to its current, expensive, commuter version, the nature of participants changed. Many of them attend better schools and extracurricular programs and have already had similar experiences.

CUOS education outreach personnel believe that a student leader, regardless of educational attainment and credentials, would be an asset to the program—and certainly as much of an expert on engineering careers as the School of Education graduate student who had run our program in 1996. Research continues to indicate that one reason why women drop out of science and engineering, both in undergraduate and in graduate programs, is the typically unwelcoming climate. A minority female undergraduate, who is actually going through the experience, could have served as a valuable information resource and role model.

Golden Key Club at Peace Neighborhood Center

Date: April 3 and April 10, 1997   Participants: 8/week, 5th and 6th graders
Site: Peace Neighborhood Center   Providers: 1–3

The Golden Key Club is a chapter of a national honor society for students in the university's College of Literature, Science and the Arts. The group presented two different hands-on science activities on different Thursdays. Participants were very responsive and enthused. Providers did a lot of planning and preparation, therefore presentation went well. This paid off when only one presenter showed up for the second week—she had to do the session alone. It was very discouraging that people made a commitment to children and did not follow through.

Owen Elementary School Intersessions

Date: 3 times per school year   Participants: Approximately 400 K–5 students
Site: Pontiac Owen Elementary   Providers: Coordinated by CUOS-provided Learning Community Coordinator

Owen School is a year-round educational facility. During its Intersessions (July, November, and February) themed enrichment programs are offered, often supplemented by field trips and tours. LC Coordinator Susan Shoemaker has done the greater part of planning and coordinating these sessions, often using Coalition resources.

CUOS participated in previous years by bringing various activities and speakers for intersessions; those worked so well that school staff decided to make the 1996–97 sessions all hands-on science. The 1997–98 year highlighted career exploration and planning. Our objectives and resources have meshed perfectly with both kinds of efforts, and we see them as evidence that our program and resources are becoming truly integrated into the life of the school.

Saturday Science

Date: March 15, 1997   Participants: 63 girls, grades 1–3
Site: Howell High School   Providers: 5 UM Students

This program served as a successful trial run for the Alternative Spring Break group. A Girl Scout Troop participated in hands-on liquid nitrogen experiments. The young women enjoyed the activity, especially "freezing and breaking things and the ice cream." The activity and the instructors were rated as "terrific."

School-Year Elementary Science Club at Community Church of God (CCoG)

Date: 9/97–2/98   Participants: 394 elementary students
Site: CCoG Opportunity Center   Providers: PreMed Club members, other UM undergrads

A changing group of volunteers, including interested individuals who were recruited at mass meetings and PreMed Club members, meets Tuesday evenings at the Opportunity Center in Ypsilanti to do hands-on science experiments and projects with 1st–5th graders. A CUOS work-study organizes volunteer assignments and lesson preparation; a CUOS staffer coordinates on-site for this and the secondary club and procures and drives a university van for volunteers that is paid for by the church. A total of 111 volunteers worked at 15 sessions, although that number represents many individuals participating more than once. An average of 8 volunteers served an average of 27 participants per session.

School-Year Secondary Science Club at Community Church of God

Date: 9/97–2/98   Participants: 141 middle–high school students
Site: CCoG Opportunity Center   Providers: CUOS researchers

A small team of CUOS graduate students and research scientists meets twice a month at the Opportunity Center to do hands-on science experiments and projects with secondary students. A total of 36 volunteers worked at 10 sessions, generally with 2–4 people leading experiments for 10–18 young people per session.

School-Year Science Club at Peace Neighborhood Center

Date: 9/97–2/98   Participants: 118 elementary students
Site: Peace Neighborhood Center   Providers: Alpha Xi Delta members, other UM undergrads

A changing group of volunteers, including Alpha Xi Delta sorority members and a group of friends who were recruited at mass meetings, does hands-on science experiments and projects with elementary students on Thursday evenings at Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor. A CUOS work-study organizes volunteer assignments and lesson preparation. A total of 51 volunteers worked at 11 sessions, with an average of 5 volunteers serving an average of 11 children per session.

Summer Algebra at North Maple Estates

Date: June 23–August 1, 1997   Participants: 4–6 past or incoming high school students
Site: N. Maple Estates Community Ctr.   Providers: 1 Reach Out! representative as instructor
1 North Maple parent as classroom assistant

Summer Algebra at North Maple Estates was a pilot program to teach six students from a HUD housing complex first-semester Algebra during the summer. Selected students were to receive course credit from Ann Arbor Public Schools through its Community Resource Credit Program. Students were taught by an undergraduate member of the Reach Out! student organization. Textbooks, curriculum, and gracious cooperation and guidance were provided by the Pioneer High School Math Department. Much planning and collaboration went into this program, designed to find out whether more individualized attention than is possible in a very large high school class can enable at-risk students to succeed in this gatekeeper course. Students were carefully chosen after applications and interviews, which were intended to impress upon them the seriousness of the commitment they were to make.

Results were mixed: two of six students eventually dropped out, due to difficulties with attendance for one and with getting motivated to work for the other. The teacher was quite discouraged that the remaining four young women passed only with low grades. Student motivation appeared to be the missing piece, and informal evaluation seems to point toward a combination of lack of faith in their own capacity to succeed along with a persistent sense that algebra is irrelevant to their life plans. It is notable that none of them seemed able to articulate any life plan beyond producing children. This is not meant to sound harsh, but rather to indicate that their personal worlds and futures are circumscribed by limited experience and role models—despite their attendance in one of the better school systems in the state.

Although the trial was clearly not an unqualified success, neither was it a failure. Two-thirds of the participants did achieve a semester's credit in algebra and some have since asked the teacher to continue to help them with their math classes during this school year. The problems resulting in underachievement among this group are complex and not amenable to a quick fix. We still learned a great deal from making the attempt. For example, a social and team-building activity (indoor rock-climbing at a specialized gym) near the end of the course facilitated a closeness and trust among the group that would have been very helpful earlier in the summer. Also, the teacher, while thoroughly versed in the subject matter and acquainted with information on learning styles, had had little actual experience with the classroom management of adolescents. An experienced teacher would not have had to learn so much on the job. Our final verdict is that this was a worthy effort that we may try to replicate with some changes.

Summer Science Clubs at Peace Neighborhood Center

Date: June –August 1997   Participants: 30–70 elementary children per week
Site: Area Parks   Providers: 8 REU students; 1 CUOS student coordinator

Peace Neighborhood Center (PNC) provides summer and after-school programs for children who are at risk due to social and economic problems. For two years, CUOS has provided volunteers to conduct a summer science club, offering a weekly hands-on science experience as a component of their summer camp program. The club convenes at various parks in the city of Ann Arbor and nearby Scio Township. An undergraduate summer stipend employee of the outreach program coordinates this club, choosing age-appropriate lessons and experiments from the Coalition Web site, preparing materials, and arranging transportation for volunteers. These assistants were drawn from the ten visitors here for the CUOS Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Initial attendance is sparse but as the summer progresses becomes very large indeed—more than 300 increasingly enthusiastic children participate in the course of six weeks. PNC personnel pitch in to provide additional "crowd control" when the numbers become excessive. Our experience over several years has shown that, beyond its benefits for the young participants, this program helps REU students become acquainted with each other, CUOS personnel, and the community—while providing a rewarding experience in community service. We learned, by doing, which experiments and strategies work best in such settings, and expect to do things even better next time.

1998 Progress Report
I. Executive Summary
II. Introduction
  A. The Problem
  B. The Solution
III. Program Implementation
  A. Organization and Management
  B. Systemic Initiatives to Build School-Centered Learning Communities
  C. Coalition Web Site
  D. Reach Out! Student Organization
  E. Math-Science Tutor/Mentoring Programs
  F. Science Outreach Programs
  G. Coalition Building and Stakeholder Development
IV. Conclusion
Appendix A: Coalition Partners List
Appendix B: Web-Site Home Page

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