Begun in Fall 2010, the New York Academy of Sciences Afterschool STEM Mentoring program recruits graduate and postdoctoral students from universities New York City, Newark, and Upstate New York to volunteer to mentor one afternoon a week in underserved 4th through 8th grade afterschool classrooms at organizations like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Mentors can choose to teach a variety of curriculum ranging from genetics to space science and can receive an Academy Mentoring Credential for completing a semester of teaching and training.
How does it work?
School Year 2015–2016:
The Academy has partnered with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) to introduce New York City and Newark middle school-aged youth to inspiring young scientists, engineers, doctors, and other STEM Professionals. Graduate students, postdocs, and professionals apply to be an Academy Mentor and if accepted are assigned to teach with a partner about once a week during afterschool hours (roughly between 3:30pm and 6:00pm) for weekly 60–90 minute sessions between the end of October 2015, and the end March 2016. The DYCD sites participating in the summer program are located throughout the five boroughs, and there are two active Citizen Schools sites in Newark, so some travel will be required. However, we will do our best to ensure that your overall one-way commute time does not exceed 40 minutes.
Once accepted and assigned, Mentors receive one day of training on a Saturday in October to learn how to teach a set of hands on STEM lessons around a wide variety of subjects. This year the program will offer two curriculum introducing environmental subjects through "Sustainability and STEM" and "Oysters and the NYC Harbor." In addition, there will be life science offerings for Nutrition, Forensic Science, and Molecular Biology. The program will also offer a computer programming option using Python for creating video games. After completing training on a given curriculum mentors also complete a short online training through videos to better understand youth development and pedagogy.
Mentors will work with their mentor-partner and their assigned site's afterschool director to decide upon an appropriate weekly timeslot for the mentoring sessions, as there is a lot of flexibility in this. Co-mentors will jointly teach a single class of 15–20 middle school-aged students, and they will work alongside a staff member at the afterschool program that hosts them. Mentors will also learn to extend each curriculum with additional lessons based on their own expertise or a culminating project that demonstrates what students have learned. An additional training in February will be offered to support that effort.
Mentors who complete 30 hours of mentoring and training over the school year will receive a New York Academy of Sciences Mentoring Credential.
- Mentors will teach weekly 60–90 minute sessions from the end of October 2015 through the end of March 2016.
- Mentors must submit a letter of acknowledgement from their supervising scientist stating that they are aware of the once-a-week commitment to the volunteer teaching program and that they support the Mentor's commitment to this program from October through March. Letters can be brief, and should be emailed to email@example.com with the subject line "Mentorship Letter of Support" in conjunction with the submission of the Mentor's online application. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about this requirement.
- Mentors must complete two trainings: one to learn the hands on STEM module on either Saturday, October 17, 24, or 31st, and the video introduction to Youth Development and Pedagogy. Mentors will also have the opportunity for further training in February.
- All volunteers must complete a background check through the Department of Health at no cost to the Mentor, as well as a health form signed by a doctor.
Who can be a Mentor?
- A graduate student, postdoctoral student, or professional in a STEM field.
- Interested in volunteering in their community and gaining teaching experience.
- Driven to inspire 4th through 8th graders to love science.
If you fit this description and are interested in working with youth, we encourage you to apply. Applications are accepted until September 15. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Academy of Sciences Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), will match NYC's graduate students and postdocs with afterschool programs in New York City. The program will address the dearth of access to hands-on science for underserved communities by delivering new and engaging curricula to middle school students.
This program was made possible by generous support from the The Achelis and Bodman Foundations, The After School Corporation, The Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation, Fred J. Brotherton Foundation, Cognizant, Fordham Street Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives - Paul Walker, The William Randolph Hearst Foundations, Infosys Foundation USA, The Pamela B. and Thomas C. Jackson Fund, Drs. Gabrielle Reem and Herbert Kayden, Laurie J. Landeau, Martin Leibowitz, National Science Foundation (DRL 1223303), National Science Foundation (DRL 1440869), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Department of Education, New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, New York Community Trust, The Pinkerton Foundation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Toyota USA Foundation, Verizon Foundation, and The Laura B. Vogler Foundation.
The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL-1223303) and (DRL 1440869). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.