Community Engagement

We believe that science education stretches beyond the classroom, and as such, we are active members of the University of Michigan community and the greater community. Individually and collectively, we serve our communities through outreach events that inform the general public about science and inspire people about the various paths and identities of scientists. Our research projects are accompanied by complimentary outreach initiatives that empower the voices of minoritized groups and communities. Outside of research, individual group members have participated in local and national science outreach programs that work towards closing the gender and racial divides in STEM. As a group of educators and leaders, we strive to teach, support, and inspire future scientists.

Coaching. Group members work with other Chemistry graduate students to lead Chemistry Instructional Coaching, a peer-led program that supports graduate student instructors (GSIs) in their teaching. Coaching is a reflective, reiterative, and non-evaluative mentorship where coaches, who are experienced and trained GSIs, support coachees in developing their teaching. Coaches can discuss a question, conduct a classroom observation, or a combination of both. Through these, coachees have the space to engage in a conversation on a topic of their choosing, from time management in the classroom, preparing for the classroom, time management for grading, supporting student conceptualization, to encouraging student engagement, or any other topics the coachee wants to work on. Ultimately, coaching is high impact and low commitment, ranging from four to six hours throughout the semester.

Wolverine Pathways – Moments of Success in the Sciences. “Wolverine Pathways seeks to confront the barriers that limit the college and career aspirations of highly motivated students from under-resourced communities.” The Shultz group works with leaders of the Wolverine Pathways program to provide two sessions about “Moments of Success in the Sciences” where group members have compiled stories, resources, and evidence-based tips for high school students who are interested in pursuing studying science in their undergraduate learning experiences. As the Shultz group, we find that this is a particularly important outreach opportunity for us to work on sharing resources to help make explicit the hidden curriculum of undergraduate science education. Some of our favorite activities within these sessions include: 1. Defining “office hours” and other academic support systems to discuss what they mean and why students should access these opportunities; 2. Sharing our undergraduate research and club experiences, reminiscing on the ways to get involved, and sharing potential organizations for students to join; and 3. Collaboratively discussing metacognitive study tips and mental health resources in college, which leads to a lively discussion about personal study habits and ways to balance academic and personal commitments.  

Letters to a Pre-Scientist. “Letters to a Pre-Scientist connects students to STEM professionals through snail mail to broaden students ’ awareness of what STEM professionals look like and do at work and inspire all students to explore a future in STEM.” Several group members participate in the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program in which they serve as a pen pal to fifth to tenth grade student “pre-scientists” in low-income communities across the United States. Without programs like Letters to a Pre-Scientist, students may not otherwise be exposed to interactions with STEM professionals in a variety of STEM careers. Through this program, group members write four letters to their pre-scientist pen pal, discussing topics like navigating higher education pathways, overcoming obstacles, and STEM career journeys. Some group members also work with their pre-scientist’s teacher to host virtual meet-and-greets with the students.