Community Partners Meeting ReCap

Jan. 24—Scientists for Tomorrow (SfT) kicked off their first Community Partners meeting of the year 2014 to discuss important topics involving SfT in their community sites; twenty-one community leaders and staff  participated representing thirteen community organizations.

Marcelo Caplan, Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Mathematics and founder of SfT, provided updates regarding the implementation of the Module Alternative Energy last fall and Family Science Day at the Museum of Science and Industry that took place on December 14, 2013.

Over the course the first academic semester more than 440 participants from 31 sites participated in the module Alternative Energy; with 5 sites currently finishing up the module.

In order to continue evaluating the program, SfT needs to have all of the Pre and Post test submitted before February 8th.
Only 26 people between Directors, Resource Coordinator and Instructors (less than 50%) filled the survey sended by Surveymonkey to gage what happen in the sites. Community partners need to be more involved in the program to make this program better and  successful.

At the Family Science Day (Museum of Science and Industry), more than 400 people participated in the event. Out of the 322 participants who filled out the exit survey, 240 were children, 24 teenagers and 72 Adults. There were 73 participants who were first time visitors at the Museum of Science and Industry.

In the community partners meeting, the participants were grouped into small groups to discuss between them, the reality of their centers regarding recruitment, retention, challenges and improvements of the program. At the end of the 15 minute small group discussions, one member for each group had to present their findings to the whole group. The whole group discussion was narrowed down to the fact that many of the recruitment strategies used by the centers DID NOT INCLUDE THE TEENS’ PARENTS!!!. To have an effective recruitment strategy, the inclusion of the parents in the cycle is paramount. Parents/Guardians are the ones that are expending more time with the children, as well as bringing and picking up the teens from the center. This can “motivate” some undecided teens to take part on the program:

   Important Notes from the meeting:
How to Recruit Participants:

  • Call the parents and meet with them personally to discuss the program.
  • Make a mandatory parent/student orientation to show and present Scientists for Tomorrow to the community.
  • Build a relationship with the school administrators, staff and teachers, so they can tell you which students would be interested in the Scientists for Tomorrow program and can funnel them to the program with positive incentives.
  • Present, discuss about the program and show the final product at a school events. Put a desk outside the classroom (like a booth) and talk to the students as they walk by.
  • Find a good day to have the Scientists for Tomorrow program that will not interfere with other programs. SfT is only one day a week.
  • Talk to local media (school newspaper, radio station, etc) to increase interest at the school.
  • Present and talk about the Scientists for Tomorrow at school assemblies or go to the class personally during school hours.
  • With the help of the community site make a program fair, where the students can choose which programs they want to sign up.
  • Send to SfT coordination pictures of your teens and their parents so we can posted in the SfT Site, Then show the participants and their parents the Scientists for Tomorrow website and social media.
  • Go and present the program at Science or Math clubs
  • Work around sports or other popular clubs.

   How to Recruit Parents:
Before the Program and During the Program

  • Have a parent/student orientation
  • Design and make a contract commitment with the parents and students
  • Promote the program on report card day pick up
  • Recruit and ask the parents to volunteer to work with you and learn by attending the class sessions.
  • Attend one of the parents morning workshops (Zumba, English, Computer class, etc..) and invite them to the events or discuss the program with them
  • Promote the establishment of a Scientists for Tomorrow parents group that meets once a month to do a small STEM workshop for parents – Marcelo will support academically his initiative
  • Get involved in community events and invite them (church, events, media, etc.) to others SfT events

Family Science Days

  • Talk to the parents on the phone about the program and Family Science Day events.
  • Tell the participants and put in the permission slips that the participants have to bring one parent/guardian/adult or they cannot attend Family Science Day event.
  • Talk to the parents standing outside waiting for their kids before or after class finishes.
  • Have a SAVE THE DATE flyer and give this flyer TO THE PARENTS – You have the date in advance for the trip. Do not wait until the last week
  • Put Family Science Day events in the school’s calendar or local media.
  • Email the teachers and parents the flyer.
  • Do Phone Blast or Robocalls
  • Make an announcement about Family Science Days and the program before the school day finishes.

End of the Module Celebrations

  • Have a huge end of the module celebration by raffling prizes, having food and inviting other programs to organize the event with you and do activities that does not necessarily involve science.
  • Find a more conductive time and place to do an end of the module event
  • Make a Mothers Day or Fathers Day event, so the students can present and give their mom a wind chime or monochord.

Currently 28 community sites will be implementing the Physics of Sound and Mathematics of Music module, where students will design and build 3 musical instruments.The other eight sites will implement Plants and People which students will create a new pilot activity, The Vertical Garden.
Toolbox and materials will need to be schedule with an SfT staff and the person will need to pick up at Columbia College Chicago, 623 S. Wabash Ave, Room 600N. Pre-test, Consent Forms and any other forms will be accessible online at under the registered user.

Community Leaders and staff will need to have a start date available to begin the implementation of the modules. Instructors will be advised for future professional developments, one being on February 8, 2014 to make a xylophone and February 22, 2014 for the sites implementing Plants and People.
Important Notes:

  • Survey Monkey from Family Science Day to win a scholarship for a paid module
  • End of the Year Physics of Sound photo and participant count recap to win a pizza party.
  • How to view activity logs through Google Drive folder

In the last hour of the meeting with the coordinators, directors and SfT staff, important upcoming events were presented as well as a potential 3 week summer program.

  • Family Science Day – March 15, 2014 at the Field Museum – Were all of our community members are invited
  • Family Science Day –  May 3, 2014, STEAM Conference at Northeastern University- Were all of our community members are invited to present or attend workshops.
  • Robotics Summer Program Challenge – Sites participating will explore the wonders of robotic engineering and compete against each other, eventually leading up to the winner competing with the other sites.

The Community Partners meeting is an effort to integrate STEM in your communities and minimize conflicts when running the SfT programming at your sites. For more information about SfT’s STEM initiative visit