GRAD 5144 (Communicating Science) alumna Caitlin Colleary is spearheading an effort to provide local kindergarteners with diverse scientist role models.
Colleary saw a study a year or so ago indicating that girls as young as five and six begin to doubt their “smarts” and their ability to grow up to be scientists–and she wants to change that. Collaborating with Center for Communicating Science associate director Carrie Kroehler, research assistant professor Vanessa Diaz in the psychology department, and a number of graduate students, she is planning a kindergarten science outreach program.
A preliminary visit to Eastern Elementary School in Giles County earlier this fall allowed the Virginia Tech team to meet with the school’s three kindergarten teachers, Lori Evans, Jessie Lowry, and Toni Robertson, as well as the school librarian Kristen Corboy and the Giles County STEM education coordinator, Christina Martin.
Colleary, a graduate student in geosciences and one of the three winners of our first Nutshell Games last March, wants children to know that people of all kinds can be scientists. She hopes to enrich kindergarten science education by having a diverse group of graduate student volunteers make monthly visits to the school to do science activities with the children.
Tyler McFayden and Amelia Tankersley, graduate students in the psychology department, are providing Colleary help with “kindergarten-friendly” activity planning. The kindergarten teachers have expressed willingness to help facilitate the activities, and the school librarian plans to provide classrooms with related age-appropriate books in advance of the graduate student visits.