Worthwhile faculty led community outreach initiatives:

3/10/13 update: RG story on a program by CS professor Kiki Prottsman. Here’s a link to her Thinkersmith.org program.

… For Prottsman — a computer science professor at the University of Oregon, where she earned her master’s in the same discipline in 2011 — this early exposure to computer science and encouragement from her father shaped who she became, and now she wants to give children that same opportunity with her nonprofit Thinkersmith, a 501-c3 charity that introduces children and adults to computer science, ultimately increasing both job opportunities in the future and self-esteem for life, she said. 

“You can shape a child’s mind when they’re young so that challenges excite them,” Prottsman said. “If something hasn’t been solved, you have the opportunity to solve it. You have to look at problems as an opportunity to try new things and not be afraid to make mistakes. Getting those skills early helps with the rest of their career and life.”
… Tom Emmons and Nate Bernstein, of local Web development company Emberex, also donated to the cause. 

The organization kicked off its “Traveling Circuits” program last fall after testing it the spring before. In the program, Prottsman and volunteers visit schools in Eugene and Springfield, teaching things like binary (language), functions, algorithms and robotics. The children make crafts that help them understand and practice these, such as magnets that spell their name in binary — a computer language using 0s and 1s. 

By spring break, Thinker­smith will have held 30 Traveling Circuits sessions in six months.

Many UO professors, instructors, staff and students volunteer in outreach efforts to encourage Oregon students to go to college:

The Summer Academy to Inspire Learning, for low SES Springfield and Bethel area HS students. This is UO’s largest “fill the pipeline” program, and runs week long summer day-camps at UO in Economics, International Studies, Psychology and Neuroscience, Performance Arts, Nanoscience and Human Physiology, Biology, and Journalism. New camps this summer in English, Education and Chemistry. SAIL is also starting an outreach program to send faculty out to local schools to give guest talks. Contact Lara Fernandez to volunteer.

The University of Oregon (UO) Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) offers fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students from other Universities and Colleges to participate in ongoing research in Life Sciences laboratories at UO during the Summer months.

STEM CORE is a consortium of UO science, math and education faculty, STEM outreach and education program coordination staff, community college faculty, K-12 collaborators, STEM industry and government partners and supporters. The primary goal of STEM CORE is to produce a broader and deeper pool of STEM talent in Oregon and nationally through the development of efficient and effective models for student learning and engagement, and by forging new collaborations between education faculty, K-12 educator, science researcher, mathematician, STEM industry and government partnerships. See Inside Oregon, on the efforts of Dean Livelybrooks, Stanley Micklavzina, and others.

From the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Oregon Young Scholars Program – a free week long residential program at UO for low SES students from Portland. 

From the UO Center for Optics, week long “SPICE camps” for middle schoolers, to encourage women in science.

The University of Oregon Courses for High School Students (UOCHSS) Program is designed for high schools students who would like to take advantage of furlough and non-school days to further their education. UOCHSS offers rigorous courses similar to those offered to college undergraduates, but offered on a smaller scale. 

The RG has a story on a program that sends UO students out to teach philosophy in elementary schools. Great idea. Started by by Paul Bodin from the Ed School and Ted Toadvine from Philosophy.  

Let me know of other similar programs to add to this list. 8/21/2012.

SAIL recruiting UO faculty to talk at local schools

My usual pitch to faculty is “Surely there must be something about your research that would interest high school students for 45 minutes?” But just in case I recommend asking one of your undergrads to come along and answer questions about college life. Details here at “Around the O” and the SAIL website is here. 2/25/2013.

Oregon fails

A third of Oregon’s HS students do not graduate on time. Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian has the latest data: 

Oregon high schools’ on-time graduation rate remained mired at 68 percent for the class of 2012, the same as the year before, when Oregon ranked fourth worst in the nation.

Dropping out of HS leads to a pretty grim life. You might think that as a college professor you can’t do much to increase HS graduation rates. You’d be surprised – UO has many effective programs where faculty volunteers can and do make a difference. 1/31/2013.

College matters

In the NYT, here. Those economists can argue about correlation/causation and the diff-in-diff. But I’ll just point out that the NYT doesn’t even bother to report the data for HS dropouts. Which would be an astonishing 40% of the students in the Springfield, Oregon school district, just three miles from UO. You can do something to get some of these students into college, by volunteering to help with UO’s SAIL program, here.

Oregon fails its children. You can help them succeed.

Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian:

Oregon has the fourth-worst high school graduation rate in the nation, according to the federal government’s most accurate state-by-state report on the topic.

Just 68 percent of Oregon high school students in the class of 2011 earned a diploma in four years, according to data released Monday.

At Springfield High School, three miles from UO, that rate is just 60%. If you are a UO professor, volunteer to join the SAIL program at sail.uoregon.edu. We know how to get these kids on the college track, we’ve got the results to prove it, and we know how to effectively use your abilities as a college professor to expand the program to more students. We have started a new SAIL program at PSU, with the same goal, and we can use more volunteers there as well. We have also received lots of invaluable help from UO staff and OAs, and from UO students volunteering as mentors, and we welcome more. Thanks! 11/28/2012.

Affirmative Action for women in science?

The NYT raises the question. Several of the NYT panelists mention mentoring and programs to get girls interested in science, as an alternative to heavy handed quotas and hiring preferences. UO has a lot of successful fill the pipeline programs to do that, and is building more. Meanwhile here is some actual data on the UO faculty. CAS Science is at the bottom, and while its TTF is more than representative of the pool (national PHD’s) when it comes to minorities, it is far behind on women. Compare columns 1 and 3. I’ve written before about UO’s UMRP and its peculiar and probably illegal AA efforts. To top off the idiocy, UO’s UMRP does not even apply to women, just to minorities. 10/1/2012.