Outreach program now offering credit

By John McMahon

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A UA program that allows undergraduates to teach science to children in local elementary and middle schools is now offered for credit.

³The Science Connection,² headed by Allison Titcomb of the Molecular Biology program, was started in 1991 by an undergraduate student, but in the past has only been offered on a volunteer basis. From this semester onward, however, the program will be offered as a preceptorship for independent study credit, as well as on a voluntary basis.

³Almost all of the students are science majors,² Titcomb said, ³but there are a few who enter the program for career exploration. Several people have come into the program and then gone on to work on a teaching degree.²

Titcomb explained that the program offers students the opportunity to deal directly with the teachers, as well, rather than coordinating their schedules through the University of Arizona.

³Students contact teachers themselves and decide on times to meet and what theyıll do,² said Titcomb, who explained that she acts only to match up students and the classrooms theyıd like to visit.

Science Connection participants in the past typically came into one classroom several times during the semester, or visited several different classrooms.

Often they perform experiments, Titcomb explained, such as one in which they attempt to come up with the formula for a mythical substance described by Dr. Seuss as ³oobloc.²

³With some starch, water, and food coloring, you can make this green-slime-like blob. Itıs very messy so the kids love it.²

Anne Meyers, a senior studying biology education, is beginning her third year in the program.

³I think itıs a great program and I wish more people knew about it,² Meyers said. ³I wish they gave credit for it before, too.²

Meyers, who plans on a career in secondary education, also mentioned that it has increased her public speaking ability and bettered her skills at project organization.

Meyers described how, last year, she and her partner visited a third grade class and afterwards the class wrote a list of questions to ask the two UA students.

³They came back to the same class and answered every single question,² Titcomb said. ³Then all the kids wrote them thank you letters.²

Titcomb also noted the importance of volunteer work to those interested in going on to medical school.

³Some students have chosen not to take the class for credit, so that they have some volunteer work on their resume,² Titcomb noted. ³My main hope is just that it would make them [the students] more likely to do other outreach programs to the schools in the future.²

³All districts are represented in the program,² Titcomb added, ³but unfortunately, weıre unable to fill all our requests.² The program leader hopes that offering the Science Connection for credit will help meet this demand.

³If someone canıt take the class, at least they should try to volunteer a couple times,² Meyers noted. ³My advice is to not be frightened. It doesnıt take as much time as youıd think and it isnıt that difficult.²

The program is still looking for participants for this semester, as well as in the spring. If interested, prospective students should have a couple hours free during the week for preparation and one to two hours a week available between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to visit classrooms.

As Titcomb noted, however, ³the most important thing is that you love kids.²

Allison Titcomb can be reached at Life Sciences South, Room 250 (621-3226) or by e-mail at allison_titcomb@tikal.


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