Excitement is in the Air October 19, 2009Posted by kwilkinson1 in Clubs.
Tags: Cambridge, Clubs, Education, Kids, Non-Profit, School, Science
How can I describe the rush of excitement I feel 5 minutes before clubs are about to begin? It’s hard to put out in words but here goes – A healthy mix of excitement, anxiousness, and leadership seems to sum everything up. I see Mentor Scientists quietly discussing their lesson plans and setting up snack in the cafeteria, putting together small samples of a project to show the girls. The tables are empty, just waiting for the girls to find them. The first to arrive are a group of about 10 girls who attend the Morse school. Their school bus drops them off at the Amigos School in time for the Friday clubs to begin at 3:00pm. Their energy and enthusiasm can be felt the minute you hear their little feet trample down the stairs. A few come directly to me and say “Hi Kareen! Where’s my Mentors?” I smile and point to their usual club table and sure enough their Mentor Scientists are there. They race over to see what’s for snack and to find out what exciting exploration project they will do today.
By 3:05pm the Amigos School is let out and the nearly 60 girls enrolled in the program (making the Amigos Science Club for Girls the largest program we offer) come down to the cafeteria and take a seat at their assigned club table. When I come over to the Kindergartners club table one of the girls tells me that she knows it’s Friday because there is always Science Club for Girls on Fridays. I smile and say, “That’s right! Are you ready to have fun?” Her mouth is already full of animal crackers by that point to speak back so she just squeezes out a smile, nods and carries on.
Welcoming the girls is one of my favorite parts of the day. It brings us all together and gives us all a chance to focus before the clubs get underway. Once snack is over and clean up is done I wait to see who looks like they are ready to get started – I usually dismiss the quietest club first and they are on their way for an hour of fun-filled science exploration and discovery.
Once the cafeteria is cleared out, I give a sigh of relief. Another great start to clubs. Girls all here – check. Mentors all here – check. Supplies all here – check. I head over to the 1st grade club in time to catch them reciting the SCFG Pledge. The last line in unison, “Science Club for Girls is for girls like me!” I can tell it is starting to become familiar to them. In a few weeks I know they’ll have it memorized. They sit happily in a circle on the classroom rug ready to find out what they will doing today. Their energy translates to squirmish sitting and constant moving. A Junior Mentor and Mentor Scientist are behind the scenes setting up the tables for the activities while the other Mentors and Junior Mentors introduce the lesson to the girls. The first grade girls are notorious for having lots of stories to share as they relate to the topic. Since they are studying water, one girl raises her hand and shares a story about her experience at the swimming pool. Soon lots of other hands go up in the air in hopes of sharing a story that has now been sparked from the previous one. I smile and quietly exit to head down the hall to the next club classroom.
For me one of the highlights of my job is getting the chance to see the program in action. I’d need a video camera with me to capture every moment, every discovery, and every laugh. In an environment where it’s okay to ask a lot of questions and make a mess, the girls begin to make sense of the world around them. I’m always impressed by how much they already know. Having the chance to be a part of this science movement is what drives me to bring more girls and more Mentors to the program. Imagine a Science Club for Girls in more cities. Imagine girls feeling connected to other women in science. Imagine our girls following their passions and dreams no matter what they are. I can’t help but recite the last two line of the SCFG Pledge in my head, “We are the future, the future we will be. Because Science Club for Girls is for girls like me!”