Maine School Science Volunteers (MSSV) recruits volunteers from the available pool of scientific professionals in the areas where they want to work and after extensive training arranges to place them in classrooms for regular participation with science teachers. The training program focuses on the physical science and math requirements of the Maine Learning Results.
The volunteers offer a variety of benefits to the classroom. Their advanced training in science often gives them insight into the scientific material being presented in the class programs. Volunteers can provide classroom demonstrations or experiments otherwise difficult or impossible to carry out without additional classroom assistance. As mature professionals, they may also reinforce the claim that mastery of the scientific material can lead to gainful employment. Finally, the presence of an extra adult in the classroom who is very familiar with the subject material will multiply the attention that can be given to each student during the class session.
A new type of activity has been successfully implemented in three separate school districts. After-school science clubs are now installed in Bath, Brunswick, and Yarmouth. They generally meet every week for a couple of hours and offer a combination of theory along with hands-on activities and experiments. Bath and Brunswick are orientated towards electronics theory and design, while Yarmouth covers just about all aspects of science. Both the volunteers and the teachers involved are very pleased with the quantity and quality of the student participation.
The volunteers are provided by MSSV without charge to the schools.
Working arrangements which may fit the needs of the teacher or volunteer are:
- A volunteer may meet on a regular basis with one or more science teachers for one or more classes. Some of our volunteers have been working with the same teacher for several years on a regular scheduled basis one or more times per week.
- One can arrange for a volunteer to assist in classes for a particular subject at an appropriate time during the school year. Several MSSV volunteers assist in the teaching of electricity and magnetism. These volunteers are in class with the science teacher every day for the period of time when these subjects are taught.
- Volunteers with specialized knowledge can present classes on their specialty at the time when the teacher is covering this material. Volunteers with experience, and in some cases advanced degrees in certain fields, can be scheduled for the following subjects:
- Electricity and magnetism
- Mechanics (Newton's laws, etc.)
- General chemistry (including organic chemistry)
- Optics (we have our own equipment for demonstrations).
- Human anatomy (we have several retired M.D.s on our list of Volunteers)
- Civil engineering (bridges, buildings, and roads)
- At the very least the volunteers provide an extra person to assist in the science classroom, but in addition they have working knowledge and professional background that can enhance the classroom experience.
All of the volunteers have completed a brief program of training which provides them with an understanding of the kinds of science demonstrations that they can successfully produce for a class. The volunteers are broadly experienced and flexible so that they can fit into the classroom and provide whatever help is needed. The volunteers have training and experience so that they have an appreciation of the learning capability and interests of the students with whom they are working.
The relationship of the volunteer to the classes and the teachers is rather open-ended. It is hoped that the individual teachers and their assigned volunteers will work out an arrangement which complements the needs of the classroom and the ability and interest of the volunteer.
Maine School Science Volunteers (MSSV) is a non-profit organization that brings together volunteer engineers and other physical scientists to assist teachers in middle school science and math classrooms. The program has been active in selected regions in southern Maine for about 10 years. The program has received financial support from several business organization and professional societies. The program receives technical support from the founding organization at Northeastern University in Boston although we are now an independent Maine-based non-profit corporation.
MSSV is continually searching for additional volunteers. We need people with a strong background and experiences in some scientific area and the ability to schedule a few hours a week during school hours. Generally this description fits retired scientist and engineers. We have a few volunteers who work full time but are released by their employers for a few hours of classroom participation.