The Diversity of the Educational Outreach Program

By Ishika Srivastava, WHK student intern, Office of Scientific Operations; contributed images
Monocacy Elementary School Community Night

The Educational Outreach Program, known colloquially as the EOP, gives elementary and middle school students access to and experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through engaging, hands-on activities such as science fairs and community events.

The goal is to encourage students to pursue Advanced Placement science classes in high school as well as unique opportunities like a Werner H. Kirsten internship at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick. Additionally, EOP volunteers, particularly high school students, get the chance to work with younger students and gain presenting and teaching experience.

Providing a Platform for the Underrepresented

The Educational Outreach Program focuses on diversity through initiatives like the Young Scholars Program, which targets underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, students who are learning English as a new language, and students who have difficulty learning and interpreting. Children with special needs and financial restraints are also assisted with undivided attention, and participating students are eligible to remain in the program through high school.

The coordinators and volunteers visit Young Scholar students three times during the school year, including at events like the recent Community Night at Monocacy Elementary School.

“There were 15 volunteers, so we were able to fill a classroom with hands-on science activities,” said Cathleen Cullen, Educational Outreach Program coordinator at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick. “The room was packed during this two-hour event. It was a great night of fun and learning. Everyone had a wonderful time—students, parents, and volunteers alike!”

This one-of-a-kind program includes hands-on experiments; scientific research; and detailed discussions about science careers, including those at NCI.

Peeking into the Future

The Educational Outreach Program is expected to continue growing over the coming years as more underprivileged and underrepresented schools and students are identified. It not only makes a significant impact on the students’ learning experiences, but it also affects the way the community’s schools and education system grow.

The EOP is always seeking interested volunteers. For more information, email Time spent with the EOP can count towards volunteer hours (such as honor societies) and/or as a presentation for a lab.