Lee University’s Dr. Jason Robinson, assistant professor of education, has recently partnered with Lee students to help with Family Science Nights at local elementary schools.
Robinson and his wife, Faith, began hosting family science nights 15 years ago at Mayfield Elementary to bring parents and kids together to learn. Since then, in addition to Mayfield, they have visited other elementary schools in the area including Blythe-Bower, North Lee, Stuart, and Taylor.
Last spring, Robinson connected his service with Lee. He brought in students from Lee’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and from the Helen Devos College of Education. This semester, Dr. Lori West, professor of biology, is providing students from her cell biology class to assist Robinson at Family Science Night, where Lee students are earning volunteer hours and valuable, hands-on experience.
“I was trying to find service for my students that would pertain to the major when I saw that Dr. Robinson was hosting a science night at my son’s elementary school,” said West. “I got in contact with him, and it has been an awesome experience for my students.”
Robinson explained that Science Night is set up in a circuit of nine-12 tables where the elementary students get to partake in hands-on stations geared to teach the basics of science. Experiments such as dropping Mentos in Diet Coke and other activities focusing on buoyancy, engineering, genetic traits, and surface tension are a few of the stations Robinson sets up. Lee students are assigned a family for the night, leading them through each experiment. “Allowing the students to be paired with one family for the whole night gives them the opportunity to form relationships in the community,” said Robinson.
“We are so pleased that Dr. Robinson and the Lee University students orchestrated a Family Science Night event at North Lee,” said Dana Yost, principal at North Lee Elementary. “The event generated excitement for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in our school and community. Their efforts allowed our students, parents, and teachers to explore through hands-on activities. We are grateful for this partnership with Lee University as it enhances our STEM education program.”
The students from West’s class include seniors Britteny Heath, Amber Littlejohn, Jesse Miller, Jose Orellana, Trevor Rayley, Noah Robinson, and Cody Street; juniors Allison Giesman and Rebecca Pereira; and sophomore Sarah Sajja. In addition to West’s students, freshmen from Robinson’s Gateway class also participated. Robinson noted that having upperclassmen from West’s class and freshmen Gateway students gave the opportunity for connection and mentorship across the different years of students.
“The collaboration between the two departments really strengthens both programs, enables our students to obtain multiple perspectives, and increases collegiality between the faculty,” said Dr. Patricia McClung, chairperson of Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education. “The whole process has been very positive for all concerned.”
Robinson has four more Family Science Nights planned for the spring 2019 semester.
For more information about scheduling future Family Science Night events, schools may contact Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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