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Edgewood Seeks to Combat Underrepresentation in the Science Field


BY JESSICA BLACKBURN | PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMAIDAN

Edgewood College’s ROSE project (Resources and Opportunities in Science Education) seeks to aid families from underrepresented backgrounds with opportunities to teach parents about science so they can prepare their children to thrive in the science community.

According to Director of Science Outreach and Associate Professor of Natural Sciences Amy Schiebel, Edgewood noticed that African American and Latino children were not continuing on in science, and Asian and Caucasian children were. This was determined by looking at colleges, universities and graduate schools. African Americans and Latinos were a minority in the science and engineering fields.

Edgewood decided that parents were being neglected. “Parents are very influential in their children’s lives, and leaving them out of the equation is a significant omission,” said Schiebel. “There were all kinds of after-school programs for the kids and enrichment for the kids, but . . . the parents . . .are still a very, very important influence in their children’s lives. So we’re going to work on the parents. And that’s where the ROSE project was born.”

There are now two different ROSE programs, according to Schiebel. For the traditional ROSE project, Edgewood partners with a group and brings about 15 families to the college.

Edgewood provides the families with free transportation a meal, and a take-home experiment. Under the guidance of Edgewood faculty, students work on science activities with the children separately so parents can work with other faculty, staff, and students. “We try to get them to come here some of the time,” Schiebel said, “because when they can picture themselves on a college campus, in a science lab, they can picture their kids there.”

In addition to leading parents through activities in the chemistry, geoscience, biology and physics labs, Edgewood faculty, staff, and students help parents find ways to incorporate this knowledge into everyday activities like cooking or bath time. “All of these things are helping the science mind develop,” said Schiebel.

The new Rose Program is called Growing With Rose and focuses on a deeper relationship with about 20 families who sign up for the program and meet one or more times a month. Edgewood provides the families with materials so they can make their own science kit at home. The evenings are organized differently since Edgewood works on activities with the parents, then the parents teach their children how to recreate the activity.

The original ROSE program has been around for about eight years, said Schiebel, and was made possible by the influence and seed money from Dr. Floyd Rose Sr.,  father of a young African-American Edgewood High School student.

According to the Office of Science Outreach on Edgewood’s website, Edgewood partners with several schools and community centers in the Madison area. “All of this stuff is built on relationships because I’m not part of the African-American or Latino communities. So I need to partner with people that are or that work in those communities, and slowly we get to know each other,” said Schiebel. “Partnerships are the only way that you can do it.”

The ROSE program also seeks to connect families with resources.  “We’re trying to take Edgewood’s smallness and multiply our influence out in these different communities by empowering the people in those communities by helping give them education,” said Schiebel. “ . . . We are continually both growing and amending the program to meet the needs of the people that we work with.”

Edgewood has seven to eight partners and meets with each of these groups twice a year. Often in the fall semester, Edgewood goes to the communities to build or rebuild the relationships, and then in the Spring semester the groups come to Edgewood. “We want to create a hub of science support, some go-to people within the community that are the first line for questions about science or helping their kids with science,” said Schiebel

Edgewood traveled to Vera Court on May 28 for the ROSE event. Takela Green, a parent who participated in the event, said she comes “for the fun activities that they learn.” Green said “they meet new kids, and they can bring the life advancement teaching home to me and my one-year-old. They learn a lot here.”

Edgewood tries to provide interesting activities at each event for the families engaging since many families are returning participants. Pulcherie Gandjui, a parent at Vera Court attending her third or fourth ROSE event, said she brings her children to the events because “[she wants] them to learn and it’s fun. And maybe in the future, [she hopes] they will go into the engineering field.”

Success can be harder to measure, according to Schiebel, but Edgewood does look at repeat participants to gauge progress and satisfaction. “Our ultimate goal is long term, right? said Schiebel.  “We want more students, more children, more people of color that are interested in science to be supported and be able to realize their dreams. That’s hard to measure,” “We have had at least a couple of students come to Edgewood as a direct result of them being involved in ROSE.”

Check out a video relating to this event by Yasir: http://otenews.com/edgewood-hosts-the-rose-project/

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