Allison Marsh, University of South Carolina; Leah McClimans, University of South Carolina;
'Why do you have so many Legos?' asked the wide-eyed 2nd grader in the hall at AC Moore Elementary. 'We're working with the 4th graders on a robotics project,' I replied. 'Would you like to learn more about robots?' He nodded eagerly before wandering away.
This semester we are piloting a course that combines an undergraduate reading seminar in STS with a service-learning component that involves weekly visits to a local elementary school where the undergrads mentor teams of 10-year-olds to program Lego robots. The course is part of a key mission of the Ann Johnson Institute to engage with the local community, but specifically to work with teachers in under-resourced schools to build capacity for integrating science and social studies in education.
It's a work in progress. The course has had positive outcomes, but it has been resource intensive. The costs of materials, and the time to coordinate and administer the program, make it difficult to reach more than a dozen undergrads and 25 fourth graders at a time. In its current form, it would be difficult to scale or expand.
In this open panel call for participants, we are hoping to find others who have attempted service-learning courses. What has worked? What approaches should be avoided? How do you reach broader communities, especially rural or under-resourced schools? Is it possible to move from a bespoke experience to something replicable at scale? How do you capture a child's wonder?