Monday, April 8, 2013

Inaugural S.A.G.E. development training is a huge success!

Our volunteers enrich the learning experience for the schools they serve - from helping a child learn to read to demonstrating chemistry techniques.  We understand every experience is as different as the students and teachers with whom S.A.G.E. members interact.  We at the board of directors, are arming our wonderful members with the tools needed to thrive. Through a series of  2-3 hour training sessions, our members will become a further asset to their schools.

Our first training session was held on February 23rd at the Northampton Library. 22 volunteers participated in "S.A.G.E.'s Ages in Stages" which focused on child development.  Participants were a mix of new and seasoned volunteers.

Board members Christine Moran and Samantha Zirolli organized and headed up the training.    Samantha shared some of the training details.  "Specifically, we covered the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual characteristics of children ages 5-12. We focused on this age group because most of S.A.G.E.'s volunteers are placed in an elementary school setting, and these ages represent grades K-6."
Christine and Samantha used a PowerPoint presentation and worksheets to present information.   Seniors also had the opportunity to share their experiences in the classroom which was a valuable connection to the material at hand.  The training's closing activity allowed seniors to pair up and write a cinquain regarding their experience with SAGE. "Being board members, Christine and I appreciated the volunteers sharing bits and pieces as well as their opinion of their experience as we don't get to see them within the classrooms," Samantha adds.
The seniors really enjoyed themselves at the training.  At the moment, Christine and Samantha are throwing some ideas around for the next training.  A suggested topic is "technology in the classroom" but we are open to anything.  It really depends on what our seniors are most interested in learning about. We have the resources so why not tell us what will help you out the most!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chemisty calls, Council Rocks answers - Part 3

After two hours of intense questioning on March 6th, the YBTC Challenge for the Philadelphia region was narrowed down to four students.  I’m proud to announce that with the help of S.A.G.E., parent, teacher and other volunteers, two students moving on to the state competition are from Council Rock. 

Elementary and middle school students from surrounding Newtown and Holland participated in the second round of the YBTC Challenge at Dow Chemical facility in Spring House, PA.  These students competed against several other districts in this nationwide, interactive scientific competition.

This time, I had the pleasure of speaking with 2 outstanding volunteers, Sandra Kiselica and Mary Evangelisto.  Sandra has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University and is a consultant to the chemistry publishing industry. Mary Evangelisto, majored in chemistry & education and teaches chemistry at Bucks County Community College and Holy Family University.  Last June, Sandra attended the national challenge in Philadelphia to see how the program worked.  She was so inspired by the dedication and willingness of young students to learn about science that she knew the YTBC was something CR had to try. 

Outside of work, both women have a special interest in creating opportunities for young people to learn about science. Every year, Sandra provides chemistry demonstrations [geared towards getting girls enthused about chemistry] while Mary routinely volunteers as a judge at science fairs. 

Mary played a vital role in the preliminary round.  She and Wally Ropchan, another S.A.G.E. volunteer, attended study sessions and helped students prepare.  “We couldn't believe how much chemistry the students absorbed, probably more than most high school or even college students,” agree Sandra, Mary and Wally.  Mary goes on to say “Wally was a big help.  I’m sure he’ll be doing more with S.A.G.E. in the future and I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity as well.” 

Sandra had the chance to attend the second round of competition.  She was impressed with students’ level of knowledge and their confidence. Council Rock hopes to continue the YBTC next year and in order to grow the program, has applied for a grant to award prizes.  Sandra hopes to increase awareness and gain involvement from local chemists in the future.  “In this manner, they would be able to mentor and do more hands-on demonstrations with the students, quite an attraction.”

The two students moving on to the state competition at Penn State main campus on April 27th are Rishi Mago, a sixth-grader from Sol Feinstone Elementary School and Henry Liu, a seventh-grader from Newtown Middle School.  What a wonderful achievement for them and the Council Rock school district!