Begun in Fall 2010, the New York Academy of Sciences Afterschool STEM Mentoring program recruits grad students and post docs from New York City-area universities to volunteer to teach one afternoon a week in middle school classrooms through community-based after school programs. For more information, please check out www.nyas.org/afterschoolprogram.
In September of 2012, the Academy was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in collaboration with the State University of New York (SUNY) to scale up the program across the state. The partnership included SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, SUNYIT in Utica, and SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in Albany in the first pilot phase and will benefit tremendously from an online teaching course provided through SUNY Empire State College. In September 2013, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), SUNY Oswego, and Stony Brook University joined the project for the second phase of the scale up. For information about the NSF grant, you can see our page at http://informalscience.org/project/show/2027.
How It Works:
Grad students and postdocs apply to be an Academy Education Mentor and if accepted are scheduled to mentor in the fall. Once accepted and scheduled, mentors will be trained on how to teach a set of lessons and will be able to gain expertise through the online class and ongoing support by project staff.
Fellows can choose to teach a life sciences curriculum, an earth or space curriculum, an engineering curriculum, or a math curriculum and can receive an Academy Education Fellow Teaching Credential. Once mentors have completed the one-day curriculum training, they are assigned to an afterschool program in Syracuse and paired with another mentor to teach with. Mentors teach for 60 - 90 minutes per week beginning the first week of October and lasting through the end of the semester in December.
Mentors who complete the training and twelve sessions of teaching will receive a New York Academy of Sciences Education Mentor Certificate.
1) Mentors must submit a letter of acknowledgment from their supervising scientist stating that they are aware of the once-a-week commitment to the volunteer teaching program, and that they support the mentor’s commitment to this program from March through May. Letters should be emailed to “Gwendolyn.Elphick@esc.edu” with a CC to Brandon Murphy "email@example.com" with the subject line “Mentor Letter of Support” in conjunction with the submission of the mentor’s online application. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about this requirement.
2) Mentors will teach after school for 60-90 minutes a week from October through December.
3) Mentors must complete the curriculum training during the month of September to become familiar with the lessons.
4) All mentors must complete the standard background check that all youth workers complete per the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. This can be done through the after school program at no cost to the mentor.
5) Participating graduate students will enroll in a 3-credit graduate-level course through Empire State College titled "Practicum in Teaching STEM and Mentoring". That course can be used towards your seminar credits required for your graduate degree, and will be offered concurrently with your time serving in the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program. As is standard with such coursework, you should budget 9 to 12 hrs per week to complete it, but since it is online the scheduling of that commitment is up to you. The preparation time and mentoring visits are also factored in as part of the course time. By the end of the semester you will gain an understanding of STEM pedagogy and mentoring. The course grade will appear on a graduate transcript from ESC and may be transferred to SUNY-ESF. The tuition for this course is waived.
Course Info: (EDU-660527) Practicum in Teaching and Mentoring in STEM (Graduate, 3 cr)
Teaching the sciences includes helping learners to gain a better understanding of content knowledge, teaching methodologies and strategies, and the scientific process. Historically, science teachers delivered content with little regard for process, and thus learners rarely gained skills in discovery or appreciation of the power of the scientific model. In this online course the student will be introduced to the pedagogy and skills necessary to teach the sciences in formal and informal environments via an inquiry-based learning model. In addition to the online learning, each student will be assigned a group of K12 students and mentor them through a series of standards-based STEM curricula. Students who successfully complete this course will have gained skills that will be useful in their roles as scientists, teachers, role models, and mentors as they experience a rich multimedia, inquiry-based learning environment as their students would in their own classroom.
If you have any questions about the program, please contact Brandon Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org).