Just recently, I was able to go to a local school near the University, a smaller elementary school called Indian Springs Elementary. I found myself there through the STEM Outreach program, a university-sponsored program that has the goal of traveling around Columbus and putting on demonstrations to help educate and spread to the public what STEM really means and what it embodies. As volunteers for STEM Outreach, a handful of other students and I, along with Dr. Linda Anderson, participated in an annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) put on by Indian Springs Elementary. We were one of the many hands-on demonstrations that kids could participate in, in order to build a fun and tangible project that involved science topics. The specific project we had was called “Jumping Jacks”, which boils down to a simple circuit that when connected, would cause a small electromagnet to jump off of the base. So while the kids came through the room making their “Jumping Jacks”, the other volunteers and I had to help them all make them since it was a little bit complicated for younger children. However, I learned something valuable to me as I was doing this.
While I’ve worked with little kids before, it was mostly as a summer camp instructor and was not able to teach them anything. I just made sure they didn’t get hurt on the playground or doing the fun games. However, when I actually got to sit down to teach the kids how to make the “Jumping Jack”, while it was similar to working with the kids before, it was much more gratifying. To be able to watch them freak out in excitement and curiosity when it popped off the stand into the air was fun to watch, like watching them discover some new magic. This experience made me learn that while I never considered any kind of teaching before, I might want to reconsider my viewpoint. While I do not think I’ll pursue a career in education, maybe joining another club or continue to volunteer through these organizations would be a new and enjoyable outlet where I can interact and teach kids how simple science works. I know that older kids putting on science demonstrations when I was a kid certainly shaped where I am steering my education and career towards, so if I could help other mold other children’s paths into enjoying science too, I think I would really enjoy it.