Giving Back to the Future
NASA team members promoted Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at Gregg Elementary from Feb. 5 to March 6. Fourth- and fifth-grade students were assisted with developing projects for the Science Fair, which was held on March 22 at the school. NASA employees (three to five at a time) volunteered every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, helping 35 students with projects. The NASA volunteers were very impressed with the enthusiasm of the students at Gregg Elementary, their Science Coordinator Andrea Gonzales and Principal David Jackson. The students were assisted with selecting their projects and using the scientific method to plan them out, and well as the execution phase.
The team represented many directorates and programs at Johnson Space Center and included: Dr. Regina Blue/AD, Kendrick Glenn/AM, Janelle Holt/AJ, Tu-Quynh T. Bui/AJ, Sheela Logan/BA, Jessica Gray/EA (student), Dalia Riojas/EA, Edna Smith/EA, Donna Blackshear-Reynolds/LA, Judy Hadley/LA, Vincent Watkins/NA, Lee Willis/NA, Elizabeth Smith/OA, Amanda Caldwell-Boyce/YA, Frank Moreno/YA, Mike Jones/YA and Vanessa Wyche/YA.
The Science Fair winners received passes to Space Center Houston. This activity was partnered with The Links, Port City Chapter, who provided additional prizes and sponsored some of the supplies and materials the students needed for their projects. The winning projects and students were also featured at The Links, Port City Chapter Eighth Annual Health, Education, Science Fair and Carnival on March 23, where more than 400 people from the Houston community were in attendance.
Comments from NASA volunteers:
“I want to thank Ms. Vanessa Wyche for giving me the opportunity to participate in this great outreach science project activity with the Gregg Elementary fourth and fifth graders. Although I had participated in pre-college outreach often in the past, it was very nice to get re-energized by working with these very bright and innovative children. I was very impressed not only with their interest in science and effort of these kids, but also with the dedication of their science teacher (Ms. Gonzalez), the quality of the Gregg Elementary facility and the latest technology that is being made available for the kids. My hope is that on behalf of NASA we demonstrated our agency's commitment to promoting science and math and helped plant the seed for our next generation of space explorers.” – Francisco Moreno
“The students at Gregg Elementary were a joy to work with! I shared things that many take for granted, like how to search the Web to find information on science projects. This was a huge ‘aha!’ moment for the kids. I was also impressed by one of my NASA colleagues, Liz Smith, when she helped a student build a solar car. His eyes were as big as saucers when he saw her give him the kit. Fulfilling the child’s wish list was a moment of joy in giving. It was also a wonderful experience to help the teacher. It is amazing what one teacher is required to do. Without the help of the NASA volunteers, Ms. Gonzalez would have had to help all of the students in four classes develop their science projects at school. In addition, she would have had to help with providing materials and oversight of the reports and write-ups. Our teachers need volunteers to not only judge at Science Fairs, but to also give hands-on help with individual students and groups. The students accomplished and learned so much with our help, and it took just a few afternoons of dedicated NASA civil servants time to accomplish the job! It’s no wonder we are top on the list of ‘Great Places to Work’ when we have these kinds of opportunities to make a difference in the local community. I believe these students will forever remember and be impacted by NASA’s caring.” – Donna Blackshear-Reynolds
“Great experience! The kids were very energetic and excited about their science projects. It was refreshing listening to their ideas for potential science projects. It showed the versatility of their imagination and their ability to think about the best way to demonstrate their idea. In some cases, as a mentor, we were able to get the students to realize that they were creating a capability, opposed to conducting a science experiment. After they realized that their expectations went beyond the scope of a science project, they were able to better focus their attention on proving a concept or condition through their project. It was quite a learning experience.” – Vincent Watkins
“It was a wonderful and rewarding experience helping the children. It was neat to see the excitement the children had for science.” – Dalia Riojas
“I got a personal satisfaction from the enthusiasm shown in wanting to learn and show off their knowledge. These kids were fantastic and displayed a discipline that is a credit to good parenting and an engaged workforce. Kudos to the parents, teachers and staff for making this experience pleasant. But, greater kudos to an amazing group of kids who were excited about science and the discovery of our world’s amazing secrets. I’m sold on doing it again next year and for many years to come.” – Lee Willis
“I had a good experience working with the students. I helped them develop ideas for their science projects. I was most surprised at how students at that age are so advanced and are comfortable using technology (Web searches, computers). Also, the students were very happy to have us working with them and the school was gracious and welcoming. Great opportunity for local outreach in the community.” – Janelle Holt
“The time spent with the students was awe-inspiring. It was moving experience to see future scientists and engineers working together toward a common goal. I believe the students will gain valuable lessons and memories that will stay with them in the years to come.” – Kendrick Glenn
“My volunteer experience was a little different. I had the joy of assisting the volunteers in more of a behind-the-scenes organizational and scheduling capacity. Weekly, I was the recipient of contagious overflowing joy as I listened to the many volunteers speak of their experiences while making plans to go back. This type of outreach is near and dear to my heart, as it brought back memories of my inner city school experiences and the volunteers that took out time to share with me. I enjoyed working with the volunteers and gathering prizes for the participants.” – Amanda Caldwell-Boyce
“I had a wonderful time working with the students at Gregg Elementary. I was pleasantly surprised at their knowledge level and readiness in basic scientific principles. It appears that the instructors are doing a great job preparing these students for potential STEM careers.” – Regina B. Blue
“Seeing the smiles on the faces of the students at Gregg Elementary makes it all worthwhile. Knowing NASA supports employees promoting STEM in the community makes NASA the best place to work.” – Vanessa Wyche, event coordinator