HYPOTHEkids: Nurturing The Next Generation Of Scientists
Studies report that America's interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects is waning. In fact, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology states that roughly 40% of college students who major in engineering and science switch majors before graduation.
Enter HYPOTHEkids, a K-12 STEM education initiative of Harlem Biospace started in October 2013 that aims to cultivate and maintain young children's enthusiasm for science. By introducing students to science through hands-on activities, HYPOTHEkids is teaching the next generation to think like scientists, and maybe even consider a career as one.
Using the scientific method, volunteer scientists and teachers walk students through an inquiry-based exchange of knowledge, from forming a hypothesis to conducting analysis. Volunteers for the program come from the Teachers College, City College, and Columbia University. There are also high school volunteers from Columbia Secondary School who assist with the program. The goal is mutual exchange of knowledge. The program is currently piloting its in-school and after-school programs at Teachers College Community School, with a 50 minute in-school lab hour to 26 students and a 90 minute after-school lab hour to 21 students.
"These critical thinking skills allow students to understand the world around them," says Erika Gillette, program director for HYPOTHEkids.
Topics covered at HypotheKIDS include:
- Molecules and states of matter
- Force and Motion
- Magnetism and Electricity
- Color and Light
- Acids and Bases in Chemistry Robotics
For the remainder of the school year, HYPOTHEkids will cover topics like structural design, cells, and DNA. Each lesson also gives students the chance to make a product at the end of the lesson to demonstrate their learning. This assessment differs from a typical test, with less focus on answering questions and more emphasis on how well students can explain their learning to friends and family. There are also plans to expand from two classes per week to seven, as well as expanding to more schools next year.
Gillette says that the best part is seeing the students eagerly spread their knowledge to others.
Interested in participating? Registration for the first annual HYPOTHEkids summer camp is now open for students in grades K-5. Held from July 7 - August 29, the tuition-based weekday camp will help fund HYPOTHEkids' Harlem-based activities during the school year.