This summer, we visited Alexandria House, a transitional home for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
During our two visits, we worked on experiments that introduced concepts such as potential and kinetic energy using marshmallow catapults and Hot Wheels race tracks. Students also participated in the Marshmallow Tower Challenge, where they are put into a situation where they experience key aspects of innovation – idea generation, collaboration, creativity, and teamwork.
Although these were the most challenging group of students that we had ever given lessons to, in the end, it was the most satisfying and fulfilling teaching experience that any of the teachers could have hoped for.
At the end of the one lesson, a student was overheard saying, ‘I want to do more science experiments! When do we get to do this again?’” We were shocked to witness one quiet boy shouting with joy when his marshmallow tower stood upright, revealing that triangles are the best building shapes. Now, he wants to design bridges someday.
A few quotes from our summer teachers:
“When we first walked in, all of the kids walked up to hug me. I knew from the beginning that these kids would be really sweet, even though I don’t really know them. You can tell that all of them wanted to learn and be there. And even without the context of the residence, I think you can see the same excitement in those kids than the kids we teach in elementary schools. You wouldn’t ever guess they experienced homelessness or unstable childhoods; they’re kind of strong, I realized. You know, they’re kids! They love Hot Wheels; we started talking about Six Flags. It was fun to connect with them in more than a ‘teacher’ level.” – Victoria Pinkett
“The kids were a little rowdier, but overall, they were all open to learning. It was more rewarding going to Alexandria House than any other of our visits because the students may be a little more disadvantaged in a sense…it felt nice to give them a little something, a little joy to their day.” – Anaya Nwachuku Thompson
“I felt humbled. Being in their situation, but still being able to be happy and really interested in learning, I think is a very humbling thing.” – Isabella Silvers
“It was memorable watching the kids get interested in the science and figure out how to make their own race tracks…just their excitement was a great memory of mine.” – Josie Gordon
“Once we started to let the kids go on their own and make their own marshmallow towers, their faces started to really light up when they succeded. I think it is really important to introduce them to different scientific concepts and get them excited about science.” – Gillian Varnum
“I am gratified to see that MSC is inspiring students to engage in their STEM education. I know that we are motivating the next generation of scientists to build and learn.” – Hannah Kim