In 2010, Macon Lowman began teaching 6th grade science in rural eastern North Carolina through Teach for America. Her school was in an extremely under-resourced county, where 80% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. They suffered the burdens of growing up in a low-income community, especially when it came to education. Most of them had never left their small town of Windsor, and many were unsure that they would complete high school, let alone attend college.
Letters to a Pre-Scientist was born when Macon realized that her students could use some inspiration from real-world scientists. She teamed up with Anna Goldstein, a scientist who helped to create a network of pen pal volunteers. Macon’s students were absolutely thrilled to receive letters, and the experience substantially improved their writing abilities, as well as their awareness of other cultures. Having mentors and seeing the great opportunities that are available to them through science strengthened their desire for education.
Letters to a Pre-Scientist has grown since then, running in three classrooms per year from 2013-2016, and adding a few additional classes per year until over 20 classrooms and 1,650 students participated in 2019-2020. During the 2020-2021 school year, Letters to a Pre-Scientist will run in 21 classrooms and reach approximately 1,500 students in CA, OH, IL, SC, and LA.