This has been an exciting few months, as Free Tutoring Online is starting to see chapters open at campuses around the US (you can see a full list in the "For Tutors" section of the confirmed clubs so far).
For me, this has been a scary time, because it means stepping outside my comfort zone and working to convince other people that Free Tutoring Online can be a huge asset in their community and they can make a difference. I'm so excited to see that people are embracing this idea and signing up to join! I've been to courses and programs on different campuses, but since I'm not in college yet, I don't think I quite understand how much of a sense of community there is and a willingness to get involved and get things done. It has me really excited about the college application process (okay, I'm also exhausted and overwhelmed...) and realizing how important the concept of an innovative and engaged community is.
If you are a college or high school student wanting to get involved with Free Tutoring Online and you don't see your campus chapter listed, please contact me to start one of your own. There are so, so many students who need help and support learning STEM subjects, and even a few hours of your time can make a huge difference.
I learned that registering as a 501(c)3 is... not as easy as it sounds. The biggest obstacle seems to be that Free Tutoring Online doesn't make or spend any money! But that's part of being "free", right?
Anyway, the good news is that we've found a partner organization to sponsor the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for Free Tutoring Online tutors who tutor more than 100 hours per year. I'm so excited to be able to offer this to the volunteers who put in these long hours, and I hope we will have more people qualifying each year.
In my last post I announced that FTO had submitted an application to become a Certifying Organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award (PVSA). Well, unfortunately we've been delayed a bit. It turns out that to become a Certifying Organization for the PVSA, FTO will need to register as a 501(c)3. There's lots of additional forms to fill out as well as bank and tax requirements, but I believe this is worth it and will continue to move forward. We are still reaching out to many organizations and students to create partnerships and expect to have official news on this very soon. Thank you!
I've been a bit busy lately and have gotten way behind on FTO emails. I'm now caught up, and I apologize to anyone who has been waiting. I received an email with a question I thought was really good. Basically a student was having some trouble getting FTO approved to fulfill the service requirement at their school. I will talk more about this a bit later, but for now, when we connect a tutor with an organization that is looking for tutors, that organization will log and certify the hours. I plan to eventually register FTO as a non profit and, once this is done, these kinds of approvals should be easier. I will also be announcing more partnerships and tutoring opportunities soon. Thank you!
This has been on my list forever, but finally it's done. I've just submitted FTO's application to become a Certifying Organization for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. This means that our tutors, in addition to receiving service hours and meeting service requirements, will also be eligible to receive the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. It will be official in 10-15 days and I will post here when I hear back, but this is very exciting news.
One of the reasons I created Free Tutoring Online is that I have seen that students decide very early that they're "not a science person" or they "just don't get math", and then doors start to close. They take an easier math course, and then are stuck on a certain track. They avoid certain science classes, which make certain majors impossible in college. Or they just start to think of themselves as not belonging in the "smart" classes, even if they are plenty smart. Math courses build on one another, and students who don't have the support or opportunity to grasp one initial concept before moving on may find that the next topics seem impossible without the previous building blocks. If you never got your head around negative numbers, for example, you're likely going to have trouble adding and subtracting them.
Everyday, students go to school and are taught countless pieces of information about various subjects surrounding STEM. Many of these children dread school because they do not understand the importance of learning the information being taught in classes, or they haven't mastered the information on which the new material is being build. Instead of seeing school as a nourishing environment, they see it as something preventing them from having fun times with their friends. This is far from positive, because many of them fail to understand the importance the STEM subjects have in our society and the successful opportunities they promise in the future.
STEM is very important in the way that affects the brain of the individual. Through studying and exploring STEM subjects at an early age, students learn to develop logical and analytical skills allowing them to become more literate in many different ways. The skills learned through these type of classes not only help students interested in STEM jobs more prepared, but also apply to any type of lifestyle. Whether through budgeting, critical and creative thinking, or collaboration, these life-skills better the life of the people who know them and allow them to have more control of their choices.
Many kids nowadays are turning away from pursuing STEM, largely due to the difficulty they have learning as well as the lack of resources they have to quality learning opportunities. If they find STEM subjects difficult or daunting, it only makes sense that they would look toward subjects that they find easier to master. However, closing the door to STEM majors and careers means closing the door to a huge array of opportunities to advance their careers and lives. This is why it is important to spark children’s creativity, curiosity, and collaboration towards these subjects at an early age. Young children are natural-born innovators, but many are turned around due to lack of attention towards nourishing these talents. There is much evidence showing that if children are not exposed to STEM in the right way before middle school, they are highly unlikely to ever major in STEM or pursue STEM related careers. This is why pursuing an environment that encourages developing natural inclination and interest is so important.
Raising a generation that is very involved with STEM will not only benefit the individual but the country. The students who will learn to develop logical and analytical skills will pave the way for medical discoveries, improved infrastructure, and advanced technology. In addition many of the jobs in science and technology tend to be high paying. The skills learned from STEM will also help students who decide to take other careers paths by allowing them to be more methodical in their thinking. As President Barack Obama said in a 2015 speech, “[Science] is more than a school subjects, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…” He underlines the importance STEM learning not only in class, but also the impact that it has on daily life in our society.