Preparing for Robotics

Preparing for Robotics
Students at DC's Whittier Educational Campus with ReSET Volunteer Peter Mehrevari

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ReSET Chosen for 2012-13 Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington

The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington is proud to announce that ReSET has been selected to be featured in the 2012-13 Catalogue. A panel of over 100 expert reviewers from area foundations, corporate giving programs, and peer non-profit organizations evaluated 220 applications; ReSET is one of 74 outstanding nonprofits to be featured this year.

Now in its tenth year, the Catalogue’s mission is to connect caring citizens with worthy community causes. According to Barbara Harman, President and Editor of the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, "Many nonprofits continue to suffer during the slow economic recovery, and the search for support has been intensified by the loss of government (and sometimes of foundation) funding. Individual donors can continue to make a real difference, keeping great organizations afloat during these challenging times.”

The Catalogue tracked $2,792,000 in 2010-11 donations, $1,335,000 to date in 2011-12 (and counting), and $17,667,000 since its inception in 2003. This year the Catalogue celebrates its 10th Anniversary.

From traditional, direct mail catalogues, to innovative online portals, to special events and social media, the Catalogue's goal is to build networks of engaged donors and great nonprofits who will make a difference in new ways, on their terms. It also provides charities with a stamp of approval that tells donors they can invest with confidence because the Catalogue vets its family of nonprofits with great care. 

25,000 individuals and hundreds of family foundations will receive copies of the print Catalogue in November, and others will visit the Catalogue website (, or access the Catalogue's customized portal at work. The online Catalogue also connects donors with volunteer opportunities, events, news, videos, and more.

"Charities were selected for excellence, cost-effectiveness, and impact" Harman said. “These are certainly among the best community-based nonprofits in the Washington region.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Younger Set

ReSET Volunteer Bob Hauptman reports on his program this term:

I want to tell you of my wonderful experience teaching science to kindergarden children.  First, you should know that it would not have been possible without the participation of two great people - Nsombi Brown, the Georgian Forest science teacher, and Harold Williams, the planetarium coordinator and professor of astronomy at Montgomery College, Takoma Park.  I have been guided by ReSET's key consideration: "To what extent does this activity spark an interest in learning more about science?"  I have long wanted to try kindergarten instead of fourth grade.  My rationale for this is that I believe the window in the brain for learning science is probably still open for six year olds, whereas it may have already closed for ten year olds.  In this regard, I also believe that this window may already be open for children younger than six.  I really need inputs from learning specialists to tell me.  Anyhow, the results exceeded my wildest expectations.  One of the main reasons is that six year olds are more pleasant than ten year olds.  They simply have not learned how to be sassy!  Additionally, they absorb information at least as well as older children, although it remains to be seen how well they retain it.  I did modify my approach slightly; so that although the activities are basically the same, I tried to present them at a simpler level.  My approach, to get them to perform on their own and then to try to get them to explain what is going on, remains basically the same.  Examples of what I did are: can/string phones, fossils, balloons for statics and Newton's reaction law, magnets, the solar system (including a visit to the planetarium, that they loved), the earth and rocks, and simple electric circuits.  I am sure much of what I do duplicates or adds to what Nsombi does, but I am not sure that matters.  I am still in a learning curve; so that, as time goes on, I will make some modifications.  For example, I will explain how plants nourish through their roots by demonstrating the rise of colored water through the fibers of a celery stalk.  I may also drop electric circuits.  I do intend to stay at this school (Will you have me, Nsombi?!) and to maintain contact with these children as they progress through grades.  It is also my intent to continue doing kindergarden and maybe even transition to pre-K.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Aerospace Engineer Stephen Leete  reports on his first classroom session as a ReSET volunteer at a school near his workplace, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

I started my volunteer activity at the nearby Catherine T. Reed Elementary School today. I spent about an hour in the classroom of Mr. Pitts and his 26 fifth grade students. I used the AstroCappella Nine Planets song, powerpoint, and scale model activity. I gave out HST lithographs about the planets. I also talked about the formation of the solar system, detecting exo-planets using the Doppler effect and Kepler’s partial occultations, how Pluto came to be demoted from planet status, and a few other things. It went very well! I had been thinking of showing different satellite orbits, but didn’t get to it.

I’ll be visiting the school’s other fifth grade class with Ms. Mauldin next week, and alternating for a total of six visits (three per teacher), on consecutive Friday afternoons. I am planning on a Sun activity next (AstroCappella’s Sun Song, materials from SOHO, SDO, etc.). Not sure yet what will come after that.