Farmdale Students Take Lessons to the Lab


Science lessonFarmdale Elementary School students visited UC Merced earlier this month as part of Research Week.

With the help of UC Merced graduate students, the children conducted science experiments late last year and made posters to explain the results. The winning posters were on display during Research Week, and the students came out to tour the campus.

Graduate student David Gravano organized the collaboration with the elementary school. He felt inspired to give back to the community after hearing first lady Michelle Obama's call to action during last year’s commencement ceremony. Gravano, the community outreach officer with the Graduate Students Association, created the Scientists of Tomorrow Educational Partnership (STEP).

"You don't want the university to be an island," Gravano explained. "I wanted to do my part to increase outreach."

He helped organize twenty five graduate students, who volunteered two times a week for three hours to teach science to about 100 children at Farmdale Elementary School in South Merced.

STEP was supported by the National Society for Black Engineers, the Science and Math Initiative and the Graduate Students Association. The partnership is another example of leadership opportunities available for students interested in a college experience that goes beyond the classroom.

Mark Kerfoot, who's pursuing a doctoral degree in physics, joined in the partnership to use his education to help young students. He taught them how to build a simple motor using a battery, magnet and paperclips.

"It's a great opportunity to give back to the community," he said, "and develop the next generation of scientists.”