START is an initiative in which students go to local public elementary schools, which are largely populated with students who have traditionally been underrepresented in the sciences, and show the students that science can be exciting and engaging in ways that they had never considered. We run weekly modules consisting of topics ranging from Biology and Chemistry to Physics and Engineering, with everything in between.
There are multiple schools which have enjoyed hosting START in their classrooms over the past few years, ranging from second through eighth grade, and we tailor our modules to fit the appropriate grades and curricula of the various classrooms. For every week, the teams are composed of a module leader, who presents the material to the class, and 5-8 team members who help facilitate the break-out experimentation, working with small groups of students to lead them through the module.
But what if I haven’t taken science courses?
That’s okay! Volunteers for START come from all different majors, and we look for a diversity of student backgrounds in every module. We also have a mandatory training session before every module in order to ensure that everyone is familiar with the material before we go in to teach. Everyone has something to contribute, even if you don’t remember a thing from freshman bio!
What kind of time commitment is START?
The module itself is a time commitment of a little over an hour, factoring in time for transportation both to and from the school, and the 45 minute period. Additionally, before every START module, you must attend a mandatory training session in which the module leader will review the material to be covered, and lead a demonstration of the experiment(s) that will be conducted. That practice session is usually run for about 20-30 minutes one night a few days before the module. Your module leader will keep you informed of when that session is to be scheduled for any given week. Overall, expect to commit around two hours a week for any given module.
How do I get to the schools?
Most of the schools are within walking distance of your campuses. For our volunteers who need to travel, we pay for the subway fare. There are walking groups for each team at the appropriate time.
I heard that START is only on Fridays, but I have to take a class on Friday morning next semester. Can I still do START?
Absolutely. Depending on when and where your class is, you have two options. First, we have some modules that begin early on Friday mornings and are over before 9:00. If that still doesn’t work with your schedule, we always have a set of modules that run on a different weekday morning and finish before 9:00, in order to accommodate those who want to share their love of science throughout the week. Just let us know in the application what times work for you.
What if I’m busy one of the weeks?
We have so many volunteers that we often find ourselves overbooked! For that reason, and for the convenience of many people, you can sign up for as many weeks as you like, but keep in mind that signing up for a week is a commitment that you will fill a spot on the schedule. Only commit if you can make it! If you know already that you won’t be available one week (because of a job or a trip, for example), just mention that in the application.
Can I lead a module?
Our team leaders are looking for experienced START members who are motivated to invest the time and energy to develop and lead modules. If you’ve already participated in START a few times, and you want to lead a module, let us know in the application. Be as specific as possible regarding the module you have in mind. Once you’re put on a team, be in contact with the team leader.
Do I get one of those cool shirts?
Welcome to the START Science application page for Spring 2016! If you want to sign up for START, read through the FAQ, then follow the link at the bottom.