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An Inside Look at Volunteering

We’re almost done with summer, and hope you guys have been having as much fun as we have with the classes we’ve hosted so far! This past month, we’ve gone through Code Your Art, Intro to Genetics, Intro to Circuits, and Intro to Engineering Sketches!

For this blog we interviewed two volunteers who have taught at Code Your Art, Intro to Genetics, and Intro to Circuits. Together we talked about their experience being a volunteer for ArtStem so far, as well as what it was like teaching for these summer workshops.

Code Your Art

Code Your Art was a little more unique in terms of ArtStem classes, since this class taught using an online platform and the finished product wasn’t on paper. . For Code Your Art, the teachers guided the kids through projects in Scratch, a coding platform that takes those who use it step by step in how to code. The teachers helped the kids put together different games, such as Maze Runner, Flappy Bird, and Rainbow Lines in Space, as well as talked to them about different programming methodologies, helping them gain information while also using a hands-on approach to create projects themselves.

Volunteers Rahul Shankar and Laxya Kumar both agreed that Code Your Art was their favorite workshop out of the workshops they volunteered at this summer. Both are interested in computer science and enjoyed teaching it to the kids, given the opportunity to show them something that they both loved.

“I’m someone who's interested in the computer science field itself, and also it was more interactive for me because I was actually able to create a game with the kids,” Kumar said. “[It was a] step by step process, so it was really nice to have that flow going.”

Intro to Genetics

In Intro to Genetics, the kids were taught vocabulary related to genetics and heredity, and learned more through an activity about Punnett Squares and an artwork of a flower that incorporated the facts that were taught.

Intro to Circuits

Intro to Circuits was special in how much it connected art and STEM fundamentally, involving much art in the teaching of a topic that is typically more STEM-heavy. Our teachers talked about different types of circuits and went over the artwork that they guided the kids through little by little during this teaching period. At the end, the finished artworks were a light bulb and a heart-shaped battery circuit.

The Volunteer Experience

For Rahul Shankar, being a volunteer of ArtStem is an experience that he appreciates due to its unique nature of not just being “your average run-of-the-mill STEM organization,” as well as the flexible schedules that those part of the organization get.

“I [also] think the people are really nice and it’s fun collaborating,” Shankar said. “I think the owners of the organization are really great people, and I also like that it’s a pretty close community because we’re not all from different areas.”

A common fear of those involved in an organization where they have to teach kids is uncertainty that they will understand the topics they need to teach well enough to teach them. To this, Shankar assures new volunteers that ArtStem guides all volunteers teaching at a workshop through the details of the topic they are to teach.

“The point of [this] is to teach some basic, interesting facts about STEM and different topics,” Shankar said. “The art is probably the emphasis of it, since that’s the product of what you get from working in the workshops. [But] also, you don’t need a terribly good art experience to join either.”

Overall, Shankar recommends becoming a volunteer for ArtStem wholeheartedly for anyone on the fence of joining or not. He offers the advice of getting involved in all the opportunities that ArtStem provides, in addition to volunteering at workshops, because “there’s something for everyone.”

“I think it’s a fun experience and people should give it a try because it’s also quite unique,” Shankar said. “It’s not just [a] boring [experience] where you throw STEM information [at the kids,] you get to do a little bit more. We also have in-person events coming soon, at the San Jose Cambrian Library Branch, and more, so there’s a lot of exciting stuff.”

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