I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve as the Science Instructor for the third summer in a row at the East Oakland Youth Development Canter’s (EOYDC) Summer Cultural Enrichment Program (SCEP). The SCEP program is a six-week summer program for children in urban Oakland and for many of them, it is their safe haven from the dangerous streets of Oakland. My neighborhood is filled with crime, drugs and poverty; many broken children fill the streets. Some of the children in my community have experienced violence. The summer program gives them hope.
Three summers ago was the first time I had an opportunity to impart some of my Science knowledge to the children in my community. I fell in love with the children. Before the first class instruction, I asked the question to each class, “What do you like about Science?” Over 85 percent of all the participants said “nothing” and it broke my heart inside but I was not surprised. I remember my elementary Science classes being boring and irrelevant because all we did was read from textbooks. We could not afford to do any experiments because our school was underfunded.
Our first class was on Chemistry and chemical and physical reactions, and we were able to do the diet coke and Mentos experiment while learning about endothermic and exothermic reactions and the children had a blast! By the end of the first class, over 90 percent of the students told me they loved Science and that made my heart ecstatic! Every day they kids ask me "Ashaki, what are we doing for Science today?" I must have answered that question at least 40 times a day during the program. Many kids told me they never did experiments in their school. They never knew that you could test your hypothesis through the scientific method. Since the first experiment, the children have had a chance to be exposed to a real science class and have found out that science can be fun and educational at the same time.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (July 2013)