This past month, making with California State University at San Marcos (CSUSM) STEM Center has kicked off successfully, in the form of the Community Service Learning (CSL) Program. In this program, CSL volunteers are recruited primarily from undergraduate students at the university, and assigned to work with 12 middle schools from 3 different school districts in their after-school mobile making programs. These middle schools have either had science departments cut due to budget issues, or cannot afford to have one at all. Each semester, the Center for Research and Engagement in STEM Education (CRESE) trains CSL volunteers in running making events and working with young learners, with the aim of exposing more students at the middle school partner sites to STEM education.
Maker VISTA member Alvin Hiedo spent his first month of service setting up this program. His process involved: coming up with STEM-related activities; developing those activities to make sure they are content-relevant and also fun; stocking up materials for those activities; recruiting CSL volunteers, then training them; and checking in with the middle schools partners to ensure readiness for starting. After the first week of the program kicked off, everyone seemed thrilled! Middle students especially were excited to learn about and work with the first STEM-related activity, Bristlebots. They seemed to already benefit from the program, and the CRESE is confident that the students will be able to expand their creativity and engaging skills in coming months.