For the first time this summer, Letters to a Pre-Scientist had more qualified teachers apply to host our program in their classroom than we could take on with the current structure of our organization. In addition, we have had hundreds of confirmed scientists on our wait list hoping to be matched with a pre-scientist over the past few years, and that number grows weekly.
In 2010, about 100 sixth grade students from rural North Carolina piloted the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program under one teacher, our founder, Macon Lowman’s, direction. This year, we will serve over 650 students in nine classrooms across eight different cities in the US. We are so proud that our small group of committed volunteers have built and refined the systems needed to successfully run our pen pal program remotely over the past seven years. We are repeatedly blown away at the dedication and enthusiasm of our scientists, teachers, and classroom coordinators, who all volunteer their time for the benefit of our students.
We are getting the first taste of the positive impact our program has had on our student’s science education: That first group of sixth graders I mentioned above? They’re in college this year, and several have expressed interest in studying STEM fields, including science education and psychology.
We’ve also seen magic happening in classrooms hosting our program each year. We have witnessed the jaw drop of a student who thinks they don’t like “science” when they realize they get to talk to someone with the real job of using computer coding to develop video games. We have seen a student’s face light-up when he, who is obsessed with aliens, gets to write with a scientist at NASA about whether they think we’ll ever find extraterrestrial life. We have had scientists challenge and guide our highest performing students who are often bored in class to begin doing experiments and research on their own, truly enriching those students’ science education in an individualized and lasting way. We owe much of the initial success of this program to our awesome scientists and their creative and personalized approaches to inspiring our students!
We have reached a critical time as a volunteer organization, and are excited to announce that we are now fiscally sponsored by Social Good Fund! This relationship allows us to receive tax deductible donations so we can grow Letters to a Pre-Scientist.
As we expand, we will dramatically increase the number of students from underserved areas that write to a scientist pen pal by recruiting and training talented science teachers. We know we can make this happen for the 2018-19 school year with just the addition of a staff member! We also hope to develop resources accessible to all science teachers that inspire students to pursue STEM careers in the form of mini video series and corresponding curriculum. In addition, we are looking to increase the support we give our teachers and students. We want to create more meaningful ways for scientists to expose students from underserved areas to the wonderful world of science through Skype interviews, field trips, classroom visits, and more!
Finally, we plan to invest time and resources in data collection and analysis of our program’s impact, because we are trying to realize an urgent mission: to inspire and empower students from underserved communities to pursue careers in STEM related fields.
We know this work is important, and we are so grateful to every single volunteer over the past 8 years that has allowed Letters to a Pre-Scientist to grow into the organization it is today. We sincerely look forward to growing our impact alongside our original supporters as well as those who have joined us along the way!
If you are interested in being one of our first financial donors, go to our fundraising campaign webpage! Thank you!