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Spotlight of the Week

IAP Fellowship Program

By Bushra Makiya
STAFF REPORTER

The IAP Fellowships Program is an opportunity for students looking an IAP activity which reaches out to the Cambridge community which is also challenging and fun. Run through the Public Service Center, this program brings MIT students into the Cambridge Public Schools as science mentors in seventh and eighth grade classrooms.

Students will be able to work with teachers in the classroom on a regular basis, as well as helping kids begin their projects for the Science Expo in the spring. This year, the focus of the Science Expo, and also the fellowship, is environmental science.

MIT students receive a $1,000 stipend for the program and are required to commit at least 100 hours to this program, as well as attending four seminars run by Dr. Melanie Barron, K-12 science coordinator for the Cambridge Public Schools.

Max K. Fischer ’00, who participated in the program last year at the Longfellow School said it was “one of the best programs I’ve ever done to actually get involved in the community.” He felt that the potential one has to impact the students, many of whom were not particularly interested in school and especially not science, was incredible. Fischer said that he started out the first day sitting in the back of the classroom, observing, and by the end of the four weeks, would sometimes actually teach the class. He also said that while the experience was very challenging and required a lot of patience, it was extremely rewarding. Many people at MIT are extremely focused on the future, he said, and it was nice to be able to apply what you learn here to the community around you and bring a strong science background and enthusiasm for science to the students. Another extremely fulfilling aspect of the fellowship for Fischer was the Science Expo projects. When he left the school at the end of IAP, the students were only beginning to think about their projects. Seeing them completed at the Expo a few months later was gratifying, Fischer said.

Kosanna W. Poon ’01, who also participated in the program last year, called it “a really good experience.” Her efforts were of a slightly different nature: she helped out many elementary classrooms in the same school, rather than working with one middle grade classroom. Poon said she applied to the program because she loved teaching and working with kids. She felt as though she had an impact on the students, and that they really had learned something by the time she left.

The Public Service Center houses about ten student run programs and also serves as a link for other student groups looking to begin community service projects. Annie McLeod ’00 is the coordinator the the fellowships program this year.

This is the tenth year of the fellowship program, which also includes a summer fellowship program working in agencies in Boston. Over the past decade, 200 fellows have contributed over 35,000 hours to the Boston and Cambridge communities.

For more information, or for an application, view <http://psc.mit.edu/fellowships.html> or go the the Public Service Center, in the fifth floor of the Student Center. The deadline for applications is this Friday.