Letters to a Pre-Scientist was founded by a teacher in rural North Carolina who realized it was a fundamental problem that her students’ perception of a scientist was a white man who wears a lab coat and pipets things - and therefore, her diverse class didn’t believe they could become scientists. In 2010, 100 sixth grade students piloted our pen pal program under our founder, Macon Lowman’s, direction. They wrote letters back and forth with marine biologists who work on boats, computer scientists who design videogames, and planetary scientists who search for extraterrestrial life, to name a few. Macon connected her students to a diverse group of scientist volunteers, and the scientists encouraged her students to pursue science careers in the future.
The mission of Letters to a Pre-Scientist is to inspire and empower students from underserved communities to pursue STEM careers. We believe that every student is a pre-scientist, and we aim to give them the tools they need to continue their education.
As we begin our eighth year, over 650 students from high needs schools in nine classrooms throughout the US are paired with a unique scientist. Our program provides a cross-curricular experience where students learn about science careers and college while improving their reading and writing skills and broadening their understanding of world geography and culture. We are proud that our four committed volunteers have built and refined the systems needed to successfully run this pen pal program remotely over the past seven years.
For the first time this summer, we had to turn down qualified teachers because we are at maximum capacity as a volunteer organization. In addition, we have hundreds of confirmed scientists on our wait list hoping to be matched with a pen pal. We are ready to take the next step and become a non-profit organization. We will improve our current program and develop a sustainable growth model to reach many more pre-scientists in underserved schools.
Funded by Boston, MA (December 2017)