One of the hallmarks of Science in Society's approach to mission-driven community engagement is committing to the long-term. Rome wasn't built in a day and we believe supporting, encouraging, and inspiring science learners (or learners of any other subject for that matter!) isn't the work of a single afternoon or one-off event. It takes a community. It takes dedication and it takes time.
Science Club was founded on these principles. It's why we work so closely with our partners at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. It's why we pair the same mentors with the same kids for a whole school year of weekly meetings -- and those relationships are why some of our groups stay together all the way through middle school.
This fall, Science Club turns eight. The first students who joined us in 2008 are now in college or other training or pursuing careers. Some of our very first alumni will finish undergrad this spring.
And just like we're committed to Science Club kids every week they're in the program, we still keep in touch with the kids who've moved on and grown-up. Each year we hold a summer BBQ for Science Club alumni -- both youth and mentors -- to reconnect. (The picture up top is from this past August.) We love to hear about college applications, summer trips, big internships, and hopes and dreams. We love to help with support and encouragement when grades are slipping, jobs are demanding, and 5th year seniors are dreading what's to come. We're in it for the long-haul and we wouldn't have it any other way.
We got to spend time one alumna quite a bit this summer because she's just finished a research project in Derk Joester's biomedical engineering lab here at Northwestern. Laura M started out in Science Club when she was barely in double digits and now she’s about to be a senior in high school. When we followed-up with Mike Whittaker, the graduate student researcher who mentored her his summer, he was nothing short of glowing:
“We were incredibly happy with Laura's work this summer. She is really going places! The real success was that Laura was sharp enough to pick up the salient parts of foreign concepts and not get preoccupied with the details. Students like that will succeed in most research environments, and we were happy to provide the space for her to do it.”
You can read an interview with Laura about being in the lab in HELIX magazine.
We're incredibly proud of Laura and all our Science Club alumni across the country. See you at next year's BBQ if not sooner!