Are you seeking to enhance your students’ learning by incorporating
a service learning experience that improves their academic performance,
supports urban, underserved youth, and builds ties to the local community?
If so, you many be interested in Science Firsthand: Partners in Discovery.
Science Firsthand: Partners in Discovery (SF) is an after-school mentoring
program for children ranging in age from 10 to 15.
SF brings together supportive adults with inner-city youth to investigate
science topics of mutual interest. Mentors work collaboratively with
one or several mentees at local community-based organizations (CBOs)
that are equipped with simple tools and materials to support exploration
and experimentation. The goal is to build enjoyment in science, to
develop skills, and to gain confidence in one’s own abilities.
College students have proven to be effective mentors, and many have
found the experience to be of value, both personally and academically.
In fact, being a mentor has been shown to positively impact college
students’ academic performance.
Science Firsthand has proven successful on a number of college campuses
that have service learning and work-study programs. This has allowed
Science Firsthand to expand its pool of mentors while at the same
time exposing its young participants to college life. Many of these
youth have never visited a college campus before this experience.
College professors are frequently interested in involving their students
with inner-city youth. This has often proved to be an effective way
to give majors in fields like education, sociology, and science practical
experiences that significantly augment their course work. Work with
younger children seems to be a strong motivator to “know your
To learn more about SF’s collaborations with college professors,
contact us, respond to a short
survey so that we can learn about your interests and needs, or click
on one of the following:
What is a science mentor?
Examine the Science Firsthand Implementation
Examine the Science Firsthand
Manual for College Mentors.
Voices from the Field
At Canisius College, …as a faculty member of The College
of Arts and Sciences, I initiated a service-learning project in a
freshman course. One goal of the …Human Anatomy and Physiology
course was to promote deeper understanding, empathy, and action in
undergraduate students towards working with children in urban schools.
In order to promote this goal, a twenty-hour service-learning requirement
was added to the course. For twenty hours, students in the course
worked in multicultural urban community centers mentoring middle school
students. Students shared new conceptual understanding they learned
in the course with middle school students. Overall, the students,
who mostly came from suburban environments, felt the experience was
rewarding. Many students came to realize that their preconceptions
about urban communities were inaccurate. Also, students became aware
of the many basic needs of children in urban settings and how these
needs affected student learning.