Setting up a virtual or in-person classroom visit
By spending just a few hours of your time, you can engage a group of children in a rewarding engineering experience.
As a STEM professional, your job is interesting, creative, and makes a difference in the world. When you share that with kids, you help them discover engineering and learn how it touches the world around them. With options for in-person or virtual visits, there are lots of different ways to reach students.
What would you like to do?
Getting started is as simple as deciding what you want and are comfortable doing. Start by answering these questions:
- What is your availability? One hour, a few hours over several weeks, or maybe weekly check-ins over the course of the semester or year?
- Do you prefer a virtual or in-person experience? If both options are available in your community, which one works best for you?
- What can you offer? A one-time career presentation, a virtual or in-person visit to introduce and lead engineering activities, or maybe a longer mentorship arrangement with the class or a few students?
- Are you comfortable volunteering alone or would you like a partner? To find a partner, is there a colleague who might be interested, or do you know any seasoned volunteers you can team up with?
Reaching out to educators
Here are a few tips for connecting with schools or after school programs to set up your visit:
- Choosing a site
- Do you have children? Their schools or clubs are a natural starting point.
- Does your employer or local engineering society chapter have a relationship with a local school—try asking your Human Resources or Community Relations department, or employee volunteerism council.
- Reaching out to a school you haven’t worked with before– call and ask for the science department chair. At an after school program, ask for the program director. Tell them you’d like to share your engineering or stem experience with students and ask how best to connect with teachers or leaders. For schools, consider offering to send them a detailed flyer that they can hang up in the teachers lounge and interested teachers can reach out directly to you.
- What to say
When you contact an educator, administrator or after school leader, explain that you are interested in volunteering with students in STEM and ask if/how you can help. Share what time availability you have and a few ideas of what you can offer. Be flexible as you chat – they may have limitations or ideas you haven’t thought of.
- How old are the students? How many are in the group?
- Are the students meeting in-person or online? Do volunteers have the option to meet with students in-person or virtually?
Once you agree your visit is a go, set up a date and time. Confirm your arrival time, set-up time if needed, and length of presentation.
If your visit will be virtual, ask:
- What virtual meeting platform are they using: ZOOM, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams?
- How will you log on to the online session? Before your visit, familiarize yourself with it and investigate if your company computer has any firewall issues with their preferred platform.
- If you have any handouts/materials, can you deliver them to the students in advance?
If your visit will be in-person, ask:
- What rules are in place for volunteers? Will you need a background check? If yes, ask how long it takes and if there is an online site they recommend. Most background checks can be done for as little as $30 and are good for three years.
- Will you have access to technology (internet access, LCD projection for your computer, DVD player, etc.)?
- Any particular check-in protocols upon arrival (parking, how to sign in, etc)?
- Are you leading a hands-on activity? Get tips on how to prepare.
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