Overall I have really enjoyed my experience this summer at the KDK-Harman Foundation. Here’s a feel good story to illustrate some of the unexpected good the summer camps do. There was a mother who had contacted one of the summer grantees and asked if her child could come to the camp. The mother explained that her daughter loves science, but her daughter is diagnosed with selective mood disorder. Therefore her daughter doesn’t talk in public. The severe anxiety her daughter experiences in social situations is expressed through her silence. The mother said don’t worry about her and don’t try to make her talk, she is perfectly fine and she’ll do everything asked of her….she just won’t talk. The camp let the little girl into the camp and during the second week the little girl was there the campers went on a field trip. The campers were divided into teams and had to solve a puzzle in the least amount of time. As the seconds ticked down the little girl got so excited and into the competition she shouted, “HURRY!”. Then she immediately looked shocked and didn’t say anything after that. This is a real testament to the camp culture that this little girl who won’t say anything became so relaxed she surprised herself and opened up a little bit.
There are many other stories that I have been told and witnessed that are similar to the one above. Students are finding out that it is possible to be a doctor or an engineer, they’re even figuring out that maybe engineering isn’t for them as a lifelong career, but hey, it was a unexpected good time. They’re also finding out that the struggles and frustration that comes with video game programming robotics, and most importantly, that overcoming the frustration they feel only makes the successes even sweeter.
With only a week and a half left at the KDK-Harman Foundation things have been fast and furious. My main focus has been organizing the shared summer learning workshop, dubbed Meet*Share*Learn (to the Power of STEM) or MSL(STEM) for short. I have been planning this workshop since May, so there actually isn’t much left to do. I have witnessed, firsthand, the efficiency and effectiveness of planning ahead…Hopefully, I can transfer these new found anti-procrastination skills to my upcoming course in the fall semester. We’ll see….
As I have mentioned before the MSL(STEM) workshop is an opportunity for the non-profit organizations to come together and share their achievements and challenges this summer. Many of them are running into similar challenges such as getting students transported to the program and then keeping them engaged with interesting material so that they want to return for every day of camp. I am extremely excited about this workshop because this is the foundation’s opportunity to share our observations and results from our site visit evaluations. I developed the evaluation form and implemented the use of the form at all 11 programs this summer. I just completed my own solo drop-in visits on all 11 grantees. A product of these evaluations is a large matrix encompassing important indicators of successful summer programs. This is it, the findings from the analysis of this matrix is where the foundation can really help the grantees become stronger for next summer. The results from this evaluation tool pilot has been a long and laborious process with many revisions needed for next summer’s implementation. I feel good about this pilot though, and it’s been interesting experience to implement my first evaluation tool.
The icing on the cake for this workshop is the foundation’s recruitment of engineers, medical technologists, doctors, and chemists for the event. We wanted to bring together non-profit organizations and STEM professionals for several reasons.
1) Non-profits can understand the needs of the STEM workforce pipeline.
2) Provide an introduction for possible STEM industry internships for young people.
3) Provide an introduction to corporate funding for NPOs.
I am especially looking forward to this aspect of the workshop because these company representatives are really passionate about STEM education and this could broaden the horizons of the afterschool and summer programming for economically disadvantaged children. In my next (AKA last) post I’ll detail the fun and excitement of the workshop and the final outcomes from my internship.