START Science Celebrates Graduation of 150 Elementary School Students From Year-Long Program
On Friday, June 22nd, Yeshiva University’s START (Students, Teachers, and Researchers Teach) Science program celebrated the graduation of more than 150 elementary school student participants from its year-long course of science education modules.
As volunteers with START, YU students teach weekly science modules to ten different classes of fourth graders at local public schools, including students in bilingual and special education tracks. Modules run the gamut from biology and chemistry to engineering and physics, with activities that might include dissecting frogs, building rollercoasters or even learning to make ice cream.
Last week, the elementary school participants received certificates marking their completion of the program in a special ceremony which also featured a science demonstration. They had the opportunity to hear remarks from New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez; Norman Bickoff, one of the major benefactors of the program; and YU student Akiva Schiff, co-president of START.
Congratulating the students on their accomplishments, Councilman Rodriguez stressed the importance of working hard and then went around the room and asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Answers included judges, lawyers, artists, authors, detectives, astronomers, designers, programmers, and so much more. One student, Ariana, said that she wanted to be a research doctor: “I see children that need help because they have diseases that there is no cure for. I just want to try and help them and support them and find a cure.”
Ariana said that START Science helped her learn skills she hopes to later use as a research doctor: “At START we learned about DNA and how when someone gets sick it could be in their DNA and they could carry it on and on from person to person,” she said. “That’s the kind of thing I want to help with when I grow up.”
Schiff said the event was the perfect culmination of the whole year. “We aim to instill a love of science and technology in the kids,” he said. “They remember every single topic and experiment. It’s incredibly inspiring to us, as teachers, to see such enthusiasm. By organizing a big event, the kids close the year with particularly strong memories of START and of science in general.”
“I want to thank Yeshiva University for doing a great job at being a great neighbor,” said Rodriguez at the graduation ceremony. “The children are the future of our community, and that is why it is important that you have Yeshiva students working with you and helping you, because if you have an idea of what you want to be in the future, that is your dream, and don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t make it.”
“The end of the year is always bittersweet. I have built relationships with the kids in my classroom, and they looked forward to our program each week,” added Schiff. “I speak for all our team leaders and volunteers in saying that we will miss our fourth graders.”