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Science for All outreach program seeks graduate student volunteers

Last year, a team of University of Minnesota graduate students founded a new outreach program dedicated to teaching science to underrepresented groups of young people in the Twin Cities. Now, in order to expand the program, additional volunteers are needed.

The outreach initiative Science for All (SFA) was founded in the fall of 2014 by a group of seven graduate students, including Department of Chemistry graduate students Rebecca Mackenzie, Lafe Purvis, and Deborah Schneiderman, and Bryan Baxter, Joseph DeWilde, Ralm Ricarte, and Nancy Trejo from the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science.

SFA aims to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the urban Twin Cities community by performing intricate science experiments with middle school students. During the 2014-15 academic year, SFA worked with a small group of 8th graders at the KIPP Northstar Academy. KIPP Northstar Academy is a charter school in North Minneapolis, which has a student body that is 96 percent African American or Latino.

SFA's first year was successful. Their students explored a diverse portfolio of science topics and developed a strong scientific curiosity. The SFA website catalogs the group's experiments, including an end-of-year field trip to the University of Minnesota.

Regarding the students' performance in their regular classes, KIPP teacher Heidi Smith said, “One of the most noticeable developments has been the quality of questions that follow experiments. They are much more likely to respond to results with higher level questions that push them to a deeper understanding of what they observed and a motivation to explore more.”

SFA plans to continue their partnership with KIPP and also expand to another school in the Twin Cities. To achieve this, SFA is recruiting 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year chemistry graduate students to join the program. Students who are interested in joining SFA should send an email to