Similar to his Maker VISTA colleague Jamera Jones in Atlanta, Maker VISTA member Alvin Heido has come up against some promotion- and buy-in building obstacles in his work at CSUSM STEM Center. In order to spread word and awareness of the Center’s programming, and to recruit undergraduate students to participate in the Community Service Learning (CSL) component that drives much of that programming, Alvin frequently attempts to visit classes and deliver an informational presentation. The tricky part Alvin has found… is getting the professors to invite him/allow him to visit.
To address this, Alvin has spent recent weeks working on his pitch and approach. Each semester the Center invites a large number of professors to come to the space to show them what the program is all about. Since the maker activities that the Center provides its middle school partners are STEM related, the solicited professors hail from similar subjects. Alvin makes the case for exposing middle school students — many of whom attend schools where STEM programs have been cut or do not exist at all — to concepts and projects that will not only build understanding but also potentially inspire the next generation of scientists, doctors, and engineers. Then, hopefully, the engaged professors will share the opportunity – and its significance — with their students, who can earn extra credit by volunteering for the program.
A wrinkle Alvin has come across, however, is that some of these professors already have extra credit incorporated into their syllabus/curriculum for the semester, so it is difficult for them to incorporate even further extra credit as an incentive. Therefore, Alvin and the STEM Center team are still striving to find the right balance of professors, student volunteers, and incentives to sustain their model. We have faith, though, as Alvin is definitely well-suited for the challenge!
Three adjectives or adverbs that describe making at CSUSM STEM Center this month: