Society for Science & the Public
August 31, 2010
My involvement with the Society for Science & the Public (SSP) was related to my oldest son, Rick in conjunction with the Ninth Annual Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge (DCYSC) co-sponsored with Discovery Communications. It attempted to find “America’s Top Young Scientist of the Year” from a field of about 80,000 US middle school students. Rick was one of the 40 finalists.
Although I disagreed with the final decision of the judges ( :-} Rick did not win), it was one of the greatest experiences of his young life. I say this in light of the fact that he had spoken at over a dozen academic conferences by this point, to note only one aspect of his life. He was truly more distressed by the end of the challenge that that he did not win. That really says something about the experience. But what may say more is the fact that he connected with the other finalists to such an extent that he turned down a behind the scenes tour at the Smithsonian to be with his new friends and colleagues after only a hour of knowing them. Many of them still correspond. How cool is that!
But my experiences with the SSP did not end there. They have provided Rick and countess other promising high school students with the opportunity to shine at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which Rick attended in both 2009 and 2010. This proved to be at least as rewarding as the DCYSC and he enjoyed it immensely, again failing to bring home one of the big prizes. What does this say about the experience provided by SSP, if even the non-winners (and they can’t all win) bring home so much from their programs. Far from being discouraged, my son hopes to attend the Intel Science Talent Search for this year and also hopes to make it back to ISEF next spring. And once again, the contacts made there will likely last a lifetime. So as much as the science fair experience itself, the opportunity to bring together the best and brightest is a feat unto itself.
Rick’s experiences have also inspired both of his younger siblings to become involved in science fairs primarily due to what has been provided with SSP. Even my wife and I became involved as judges at ISEF last year (although they would not let me judge Rick’s project :-} ). Both of us found other categories in which we were qualified and the two of us came away from the experience inspired.
Since fifth grade, Rick had been caught up in school and regional science fairs which progressed to DCYSC and state fair since eighth grade. For the last two years, he was honored to participate at ISEF.
Not only has this stimulated his interest in science, but it has encouraged him to continue his research on an obscure Asian tortoise, about which very little is known. He has become more proficient and professional interacting with his peers and also sharing his experiences with them stimulating their own interest.
SSP not only inspires greatness, but encourages and nurtures it. Rick would not be where he is today with SSP.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
in conjunction with the amazing work they have done encouraging young people and providing them with experience and a real sense of pride in themselves. I've seen the results of SSP on many lives who have greatly benefited from the experiences provided.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
make it bigger, encompassing a greater scope to influence the lives of the best of the young people amoung us. For if we do not provide the experences they need, they will not rise to the challenge and from where will our next Einstein emerge.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
the opportunities they provide to those who would best benefit from it. The encouragement, experences, and pure joy of those lucky enough to participate in their programs is a sight to see. I wish more could do so.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
dedicated, knowledeable, friendly, helpful, and encouraging.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
change the world. really...
Ways to make it better...
it had started many mamy years ago. But I intend to make up for lost time and volunteer on a regular basis.
In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...
funding and finding new vistas to challenge our young people.
One thing I'd also say is that...
I was proud to be counted amoung their many wonderful volunteers. Noone who could experience their work could fail to come away better for it.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every six months
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & Volunteer judge and mentor for someone whose life SSP has truly touched.