Family Science Nights

Family Science Nights Volunteer Connection

The goal of this program is to bring exciting, hands-on science activities into local K-12 schools and community centers, to promote science exploration for kids and families.  A particular aim is to bring activities
into schools and communities to reach kids who may not otherwise be exposed to exciting science outreach performed on the UW campus.

How the program works

Information for Schools:  Ultimately, schools/centers are responsible for their own events – our goal is to connect schools with scientist volunteers.  PLEASE BE SURE TO THANK YOUR VOLUNTEERS AFTER THE EVENT.

Most events take place in the spring semester.  As such, schools are encouraged to signup on the Request Form (ideally several months before your event;  Spring events get the most volunteers if they are posted in Fall).

Volunteers will be solicited for many events at once. Schools should specify the time and date of their event, desired format (e.g. 8-10 activity tables through which kids and families can migrate at will, versus 2-3 30-minute in-depth activities), desired languages besides English, and any other important information.

For the actual event, schools are responsible for providing and setting up tables for each activity and providing access to power or water if needed.  Schools are also responsible for their own advertising.  ** Schools are also now required to coordinate their volunteers at least a week before the event (email an event reminder, parking instructions, any other important details).

We also strongly encourage teachers, parents, and kids to put on one or more of their own science activities at the event.  We have many example activities (see below) – some of the best activities are simple and do not require extensive knowledge and are easy for families to conduct.  Involvement of students and teachers helps to invite participation and promote attendance at these events.

Information for Volunteers:  After schools have made requests, we will create a single sign-up sheet where volunteers and outreach groups can easily sign up for one or more Family Science Nights.

We strongly encourage individuals and outreach groups to perform the same activity at multiple events, since events are attended by different groups of families – this significantly reduces prep time and maximizes our efforts to reach as many families as possible.

We encourage volunteers to engage kids and families in inquiry-based exploration, by asking questions and getting kids to think about the science (rather than memorizing facts or simply walking through actions).

Activities do not have to be complicated to engage kids, and often simple activities are eye-opening for youngsters and their families ( especially if they are asked to think about how the activity connects to their own experiences).

We have compiled a list of websites that have many suggested activities.  Small amounts of funding are available to cover the costs of activities, and equipment (such as microscopes, pipets, DNA prep kids) are available thanks to the generous support of Tom Zinnen in the UW-Madison Biotech Outreach Center.

** Audrey is happy to meet with students, staff, faculty, and other volunteers to discuss the program or get assistance in choosing/designing an activity.