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How I spent my summer: Perspectives from our teen peer mentors August 31, 2011

Posted by kyliev in Junior Mentors, Junior Mentors Speak.
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Through the support of the Cambridge Mayor’s Youth Summer Employment Program and a grant from Google, a group of 5 amazing teens, led by our summer intern Stephanie Newton from Wellesley College, formed a vibrant team that brought much laughter and energy to our usually quiet offices. They taught science every week at the Frisoli Community Center, and participated in field trips to places like the MIT Edgerton Center and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

What did you do as a Peer Mentor at Science Club for Girls this summer?

Kaychette: Monday through Wednesday we prepared to teach young first graders and young teens about science for Thursdays.  We would have a lesson with a certain topic and experiment for them to do and learn from.

Lucy: During our prep time we talked about how to make science more interesting for younger kids. We challenged ourselves to set up exact schedules and give each Peer Mentor a piece of the lesson.  For example, Chynere would do a stimulating introduction and then the rest of us (Lucy, Kaychette, Ari, and Fawzia) would split up the activities and speaking parts.

Ari: I got to do stuff I never did before.  I never actually taught kids like an actual teacher.

Did you learn about any science yourself?

Lucy and Ari test an experiment with their students.

Lucy: We did a few science experiments, such as getting a balloon to the top of the stairs with only tape, straws, and string… In terms of science, I learned about proteins, balloons and rubber, buoyancy, surface tension, laughter, “fun facts,” etc.

Ari: I learned a lot of new hands-on science activities that were really cool.

What other activities did you do?

Lucy: Team building games and activities such as “Mad Libs” in new accents/voices, or talking about one topic for a minute without saying “like” or “um.”  Sometimes our games were scientific, sometimes they weren’t…We went on field trips and we interacted with the head scientists/students and got tours of their buildings.

Did you learn anything outside of science this summer?

Lucy: I learned so much: about how to work with a group, how to be enthusiastic around kids, how to be a leader, how to have good input in a discussion, etc…We learned quite a bit [on field trips] – suggestions about our futures come into the conversations sometimes, too.

Kaychette: I learned that young kids can’t pay attention for too long and how to plan teaching lessons and following through with it.

Chynere and Kaychette have fun at a club.

Ari: It taught me to motivate myself into working, keep my options open and if you have an option TAKE IT because you don’t know where it can take you. Science Club for Girls also showed me not to be scared/shy to do new and meet new people.  Just be myself.

What was your favorite part of working at Science Club for Girls?

Lucy: My favorite part(s) were team bonding activities.  I feel like I made new friends and grew as a person.

Kaychette: My favorite parts of the program were getting to know the people I worked with and going on field trips on Friday that were science-related and very informative.  It was a good experience to see what other jobs there were for science.

About the Peer Mentors…

Fawzia Nur, a rising 9th grader and a Science Club for Girls veteran, joined the summer program with previous knowledge of the curriculum and of how to quiet down 35 kindergarteners. She was often called on for her expertise in this area. She is interested in psychology and loves Somalian food, and possesses the rare ability to joke around while maintaining a completely straight face.

Lucy Sternbach, in addition to being a scientist in 9th grade, is also a year-round basketball and soccer player. She can always make the kids (and her peers) laugh by suddenly whipping out her Grandma imitation. She is a fearless and outgoing leader, an expert at diverting the group on a tangential discussion one minute, and then directing them back on track the next minute.

Arihana Gonzalez, a soon-to-be high school freshman, is a wealth of knowledge of pop culture, cool music, and current artists. She began at SCFG having never taught before, but we discovered her hidden talent for getting kids to listen to her while she explains how taste and smell are interconnected, or how to create a volcano. She is an avid fan of the Smurfs and Transformers.

Chynere Scott-Dottin, pancake chef extraordinaire, will be a junior in high school this upcoming year. She frequently shares with us her wisdom through stories about her life. This summer, she perfected her skills of introducing our topic of the day, asking the kids questions, and getting them involved in all types of activities. We predict she will be famous one day for her incredible poetry.

Kaychette Wilson, a high school junior, has been known to display a different color and detailed nail polish design on her fingernails every day. She is a talented and creative artist, and also entertained us with her dramatic acting skills. She is interested in science, and during field trips to research labs, she challenges the scientists by asking insightful, thought-provoking questions.

…and their intrepid leader

Stephanie Newton (Program Leader) felt lost and confused after graduating from Wellesley College, until she chanced upon Science Club for Girls. Her interest in neuroscience and love of dissecting things led her to look for science-related positions, so she knows she landed in the right place. She thoroughly enjoyed her summer with her 5 peer mentors, doing messy science experiments and discussing the meaning of life.

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