When CEE students volunteer, good things happen for kids’ interest in science and engineering.
CEE doctoral student Yixin Mao was among a number of UW volunteers who served as a Science Fair Mentor at Bryant Elementary School during winter quarter 2015. For nine weeks, Yixin led a group of fourth and fifth graders in a scientific investigation to filter dirty water and examined how gravel, activated carbon, and other materials worked to clean water. Throughout the process, students learned to conduct background research, formulate a scientific question and hypothesis, set up an experiment, analyze results, and draw and communicate conclusions.
Some of her favorite moments while volunteering included the positive feedback from students, especially when they shared how they were thinking in new ways and enjoying the process. “I think it’s meaningful to stimulate kids’ interests in science while they are young,” said Yixin. “And I feel science fairs really do that job.”
While the elementary students learned about the scientific process, Yixin explained how she gained teaching experience, such as how to effectively assign tasks to group members, and to “break down complex subjects into everyday words.”
Yixin highly recommends volunteering to others in the CEE community. “It is a really fun experience and a good opportunity to let kids learn something that you are passionate about in your major (or other exciting subjects of science),” said Yixin. “For example, my group project was about environmental engineering, and some other groups were building structures. So I think CEE students will be a good fit and benefit a lot from it.”