Volunteers Learn How to Help Kids Learn Science
Aug. 26, 2010
More than a dozen local high-tech employees and other volunteers will gather at UT Dallas this week before fanning out next month to teach, encourage, prod, cheerlead and otherwise interact with kids, all in the interest of promoting an interest in science.
Part of the University’s Contact Science program, this new effort provides kids with stimulating opportunities for hands-on involvement with science.
“This is a great example of grassroots involvement in science education,” said Dr. Koshi Dhingra, assistant director of the Science and Engineering Education Center at UT Dallas. “Even if they have only a few hours of their time to devote to this effort this fall, these volunteers who love science and enjoy working with young people will help raise kids’ interest in science and technology.”
On Thursday, volunteers will spend two hours learning how to provide kids with a hands-on introduction to robotics. And on Saturday another group of volunteers will be trained to staff interactive science displays focusing on electricity, optics and microscopes.
“Growing up, I didn’t have an opportunity to attend the best schools,” said Gregory J. Duperon, one of about a dozen volunteers from Texas Instruments. “I came of age in the inner city, where lack of funding for science programs is an unfortunate reality. Were it not for a few select teachers who exposed me to the possibilities of science and mathematics, it’s highly unlikely that I would have studied engineering in college. And it’s therefore unlikely I would have become an engineer. The gift those teachers gave me has proved to be priceless. It’s a gift I want to share with the next generation of kids.”
“This is all about introducing kids to the tools of science,” Dhingra added. “It’s about the experience and thrill of manipulating components in each of these scientific areas and seeing what the results are. We call it ‘thoughtful tinkering,’ and it’s a big part of what the Contact Science program is all about.”
Added Torrence Robinson, director of education and workforce at TI: “Future success – not only of companies like Texas Instruments but of our region, state and nation – depends on our ability to create an ecosystem of innovation. Math and science skills are fundamental to innovating in the digital age and competing in a global economy. Contact Science is an effective way to extend and reinforce science learning.”
Contact Science is part of the UT Dallas Science and Engineering Education Center, which was founded last year by Dr. Russell Hulse, a regental professor and the associate vice president for strategic initiatives at UT Dallas. Co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics, he is committed to reinvigorating science education in the nation’s K-12 classrooms.