PROJECT “EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH STEM”
MAY 1, 2021 TO MARCH 30, 2022
Pavlikeni Municipality and Sliven, Bulgaria
The project “Empowering Communities Through STEM” is a children’s grass-root project run and implemented by Vox Tua, a nonprofit association passionate to engage, educate, and empower children and the youth. The project is fully funded by the Embassy of the United States – Sofia. This project will focus on providing the resources to the participating schools and teachers to run throughout the school year interactive and fun STEM-base in-class experiments with their students with the purpose to fuel and stimulate their curiosity and appreciation for careers in science.
The participants in the project will be students from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade from five schools from the following cities/villages: Pavlikeni, Sliven, Batak, and Vurbovka. The project will reach a total of 550-600 students and over 30 teachers.
This project is inspired by the success and the feedback we got from directors, teachers, parents, and students that participated in the project “The Young Scientist Project 2020-2021”. All the Directors of all five participating schools have shown a resounding willingness to continue working with Vox Tua on the project’s sustainable expansion because they truly believe in the positive impact our projects have in their communities. The project still has as its main objective to inspire disadvantaged children from rural areas to pursue a career in science and understand that learning science can be fun and engaging. However, this new project focuses on giving the tools, resources, support, and training to teachers for them to be able to conduct in-class experiments by themselves for many years to come. The focus of this project is long-term sustainability and instilling the importance of a mentorship culture between young high school students and teachers/schools.
We have chosen to continue partnering with five schools. Four schools are from the municipality of Pavlikeni, and one school from Sliven. The five schools participating in the project are:
- SU “Bacho Kiro” – Pavlikeni
- OU “Cv. Kliment Ohridski” – Pavlikeni
- OU “Cv. Cv. Kiril and Metodi” – Batak
- OU “Filip Totyu” – Varbovka
- 3rd Primary School “Doctor Ivan Seliminski” – Sliven
The Team Running the Project
The people leading the project are Luis Lomeli, director of Vox Tua, and ten students from Sofia High School of Mathematics as Project Managers. Luis has more than 15 years of experience in education and youth development around the world. As a volunteer for 2.5 years in the Peace Corps, he has developed a passion for running projects that aim to inspire children and young people to reach their full potential and to have a positive impact on their community. The students from Sofia High School of Mathematics are from 11th and 12th grade and have multiple honors in sciences and humanities as well as extensive experience in education and educational activities.
Structure and Detailed Information of the Project
- The production of a Resource Manual with 26 fun and educational in-class experiments: eight experiments for 1st grade, eight experiments for 2nd grade, and eight experiments for 3rd grade. The high school students will create the Resource Manual from scratch; 30+ professional copies will be printed and a PDF version will be available on our website. Ten high school students from Sofia High School of Mathematics “Paisii Hilendarski” will be responsible for putting together the Resource Manual from beginning to end; working together as one team (with the guidance and mentorship of Luis Lomeli). 550+ Students will be able to enjoy 8 experiments throughout their school year, and more if they are first or second grade.
- The high school students/Project Managers will co-teaching with elementary teachers through hands-on experiment-based courses. As part of the training and mentoring process, the Project Managers will lead two experiments with each teacher to help them gain confidence and passion for science. Through this co-teaching process, the teachers will familiarize themselves better with the experiments in the Resource Manual and get the support they need from their mentors. Also, by having high school students and teachers collaborating together in front of elementary students, the project provides an empowering message of the importance of having in schools a mentorship culture.
- Providing all the materials for the experiments in the Resource Manual. The Project Managers and Luis Lomeli will put together all the materials needed to execute the experiment and give them to each school/teacher to allow them to implement exciting experiments in class throughout the whole school year.
- Training and Mentoring. All teachers that will be part of the project will get sufficient training so they can feel ready to lead the experiments on their own. All of the trainings will be led by Project Managers and Luis Lomeli, the Director of Vox Tua.