By AMY F.
© 2006 THE NEWS-GAZETTE
Published Online January 23, 2006
- Hey, this science stuff is pretty cool.
That's the word from students in the local chapter
of the African-American Male Achievers Network, or A-MAN. The
after-school science program, started last fall, aims to help
primarily disadvantaged kids learn to enjoy chemistry, physics and the
like and to start looking to the sciences for viable career options.
"A lot of our students are scared of
science," said Jerrod Henderson, who started the local
chapter. "We try to make it fun and interesting."
doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, is a member of
the alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi
fraternity, which runs the program with its undergraduate chapter.
The dozen or so students in A-MAN meet twice a month at
during the UI semesters.
The program has already got seventh-grader Fred
Wallace Jr. hooked. When he grows up, he wants to be a science
His sister, fifth-grader
, wants to be a surgeon.
Both Wallaces said the
A-MAN program has taught them a lot of about science - and they love
"Mostly in science (class) we just read about
Classes consists of lots
of hands-on experimentation. "We look for it to be interactive,
because the students get bored easily,"
said. "I get them involved in an experiment. ... Once they
see it's working ... then I give them my little scientific
Each class has a different facilitator, who teaches
based on his or her area of expertise. Volunteers work with the
students - who can be in first through 12th grade - to guide them
through experiments, letting the kids do the work.
Fred particularly loved the experiment that had
students making "something like a Lava Lamp," he said.
"We learned how to put different stuff together to make
liked the experiment where the kids poured water over drawings made
with a black marker and saw the black color separate into a spectrum
of hues. "It made a rainbow," she said.
"Black is made out of a lot of different
colors," Fred added.
has found that since his son, Danis Jr.,
has started A-MAN, "he's asking a lot more questions."
The dad is also happy that the program is giving
kids career paths to science.
"A lot of African-American kids are heavy into
sports and entertainment," Pelmore
said. "They lose the focus on the core skills that they
Almeda Wright works with
many of the A-MAN participants in her role as program director of the
21st Century Learning Center at Stratton. She's seen a
difference in students' knowledge already.
"They can explain what a polymer is because
they actually know," she said. "They're able to explain it
to other kids."
Wright has also seen a change in A-MAN students
attitudes toward the sciences.
"A lot of them thought of the lab coats,"
she said. "Now they think it's cool."