March 6th marked the kickoff of the STEM Mentor Program – an innovative new partnership between The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science (The Center) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester (BBBS)
This exciting program matches fourth, fifth, and sixth graders with adult mentors who have a background or passion in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Pairs meet once a month to engage in a formal or informal STEM related activity – such as visiting the Rochester Museum and Science Center or taking a nature hike in a local park.
BBBS of Greater Rochester provides the matching and training of Big/Little pairs and The Center supports these matches with access to community resources, field trips and other group activities.
The goals of the STEM Mentor Program are to: 1) Foster excitement and engagement in youth for STEM disciplines 2) Increase the number of students that maintain passing grades in college preparatory courses and 3) Increase the number of youth planning to attend college in STEM disciplines.
While the final two goals may seem far away for children in grades four through six, the reality is that those grades are the pivotal years to incite longterm interest in math and science. Studies have shown that math scores decline most between grades six and seven.
STEM Mentor Paul Guglielmo decided to become a STEM Mentor because he witnessed this trend starting with his own Little. “I was talking with my Little’s caregiver one day and she mentioned he was having a little trouble in school with science.” Guglielmo, who is surrounded by science and technology on a daily basis as an on-air personality for a popular Rochester radio station, saw an opportunity to make a difference. “I want to pass that [interest in science] onto my Little,” Guglielmo said.
March 6th was the first group activity for these pioneering pairs like Paul and his Little. The STEM Mentor Bigs and Littles came together for a fun-filled afternoon of games, pizza, discussion, and a presentation from The Seneca Park Zoomobile.
Mentor Ensley Townsend, who said he joined the STEM Mentor Program “to share my love of math and science with younger minds,” enjoyed the event–especially the hands-on approach to science–something the STEM Mentor program strives for. “I loved the Zoomobile and the interactive nature of the event,” Townsend said, “It was my first time touching or even coming close to an armadillo.”
Touching an armadillo was also a first for all of the Littles at the event. These exciting moments of science shared between a Big and Little is what the STEM Mentor Program is all about.
If you are interested in learning more about or joining the STEM Mentor Program please email the program coordinator, Caurie Putnam, at firstname.lastname@example.org All STEM Mentors are Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers foremost and must first go through the thorough background check and training the organization provides.