My Work with the Aarti For Girls School Through Gro-STEMs
Aarti High School is one of the several programs run by the “Aarti For Girls”, a non-profit organization in Kadapa, Andra Pradesh.
Having participated in science fairs for 5 years, I felt I could support the Aarti School's STEM education curriculum. Thus, I volunteered to develop a Science Fair Bootcamp to teach students the scientific method and the engineering design process. Two projects "Does Garlic have Antibacterial Properties" (Scientific Research Project) and "Making Cheap and Efficient Electricity from Coins" (Engineering Project) were conducted in the Bootcamp.
From the get-go, it was clear that it would be an experience like no other. Help came from all corners - Principal Nancy and teachers like Sujatha Madam, Ali Sir, Gopal Sir, and Oblesu Sir showed incredible support, staying long after official school hours, coming on weekends, and putting their personal priorities on back-burner all to provide the students sufficient time to be able to do the projects. But, it was the students who made a lasting impact on me. They were teeming with an insatiable desire to learn. It was palpable in everything they did. Roadblocks didn’t deter them, and they came up with creative propositions to push through. Additionally, they proactively made plans with teachers to stay late and come during lunch breaks to work on the projects.
Initially, 8-days seemed like not enough time to conduct the two projects, but we found time not only to do additional STEM RAFT activities donated by XILINX but I , even, was given the opportunity to help another volunteer in introducing Micro Chips, a Raspberry Pi-like computer resource, for the first time in India. I was, also, allowed to visit the Aarti Home and tutor some of the students in various subjects ranging from Math to English. In conclusion, the love and affection they showered on me were touching, but it was truly inspiring to see their creativity and confidence despite the disadvantages they faced.
Additional Partnerships Through Gro-STEMs
I taught several classes at the local Life Moves homeless shelters through the Achieving Career and Educational Success Program as well as biology classes about the one-dollar microscope, the Foldscope.
I taught classes at the Black Girls Code Virtual Summer Camp to increase interest in computer science among elementary students.
I also provided the curriculum to the Life Moves Homeless Shelter Organization for three succulent activities for their summer camp.
Finally, I taught Bioinformatics Classes at the San Jose Public Libraries