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Catalysts in Newton November 9, 2010

Posted by Science Club for Girls in Clubs.

I am getting excited about the Catalyst Award Ceremony and Benefit tomorrow, Wednesday, November 10, 2010.  I am looking forward to meeting our awardees, Dr. Joanne Kamens and Dr. Tayyaba Hasan.  I am looking forward to matching my wits on some of the puzzles that author Penny Noyce will bring from her recent book, Lost in Lexicon: An adventure in Words and Numbers.  I am looking forward to getting to know my fellow Science Club for Girl’s co-workers.  But mostly, I am looking forward to eating those little shrimp appetizers.

Amid all this excitement, I started thinking about the word catalyst and what it means to me.  Recalling my undergraduate days, in chemistry the word catalyst describes a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.  Digging a little deeper into my dictionary, I found a definition that invokes a more profound feeling for me: a person that precipitates an event or change.  I feel an attachment to this particular definition, because it reminds me of my “catalysts”, namely the mentor scientists and junior mentors at the Newton site.  These volunteers come every Saturday to motivate, energize and mentor over 80 girls from Kindergarten through Seventh grades, who themselves come voluntarily from all over northeast Massachusetts.  I believe that my mentor scientists and junior mentors ARE able to precipitate a change every Saturday for 1 hour and a half.  I am going to start calling them “Mentor Catalysts”.

With over 80 participants at the Newton site, we are at capacity, and for the first time, we have closed registration for the fall semester.  The Kindergarten/First grade club is learning about “Our Earth”.  Last Saturday, they learned all about recycling.  I came in as a guest mentor and taught them the song “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” (please don’t ask me to sing it for you).  I have attached the video below.  The Second/Third grade club are learning all about their bodies and creating body maps of the different systems.  They just learned about the sense of taste.  Funny how quickly lessons are learned when jellybeans are used as a learning tool!  The Fourth/Fifth grade clubs are dissecting clams, sea stars and perch and learning about oceans and how important water is to all life.  Wellesley college team lead by Connie Bauman is teaching the Sixth/Seventh grade club about sports nutrition.  A few weeks ago, the Wellesley team took the entire Sixth/Seventh grade club along with siblings and parents on a field trip to Tangerini farms.  Everyone had fun harvesting organic produce, they were even able to bring some of it home along with recipes on how to prepare the fresh food.  This coming Saturday, I am going on a field trip with 35 Kindergarten through Fifth graders to the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton.   It has been a busy but fantastic fall semester so far.

Abby Cheng

Newton Site Coordinator



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