“When you have the right equipment, you can do the job right,” says Christian Anzueto. “And, it makes you more excited for the job.”
You might be surprised to learn the kind of equipment that’s made this 5th grader so excited. It’s not sports equipment, or gaming equipment. Christian is talking about goggles, gloves and lab aprons: basic science lab equipment. Christian is part of an innovative Citizen Schools Apprenticeship Program at the Joseph Browne Middle School in Chelsea. He and his classmates will soon be rolling up their sleeves to conduct experiments using the “right” equipment, donated by the life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific. On October 13, 2016, representatives of Thermo Fisher visited Christian’s school to deliver more than 400 Safety Lab Kits to a group of enthusiastic middle schoolers. Each kit contains a lab apron, splash guard goggles, gloves, and a lab notebook. The donation is well-timed as Browne students dig into their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework, and administrators keep an eye on their tight budget, which is often too limited to enable the purchase of science equipment.
Thermo Fisher has a mission to enable its customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. As students’ hands popped up with questions and comments, the company’s Vice President of Corporate Communications and Senior Director of Public Relations reminded the students that science is everywhere – from the cell phones in their backpacks, to the banana scented markers in their hands. Nodding his head in agreement, 10–year-old George Sannoh says that’s part of the reason he loves science. “I was studying science this summer. My dad helps me with it. I like it because explains how everything around us works.”
Making that connection is just part of the mission of Citizen Schools, a national education nonprofit based in Boston, which serves middle school students in low-income communities in six states by utilizing volunteer “citizen teachers,” like those from Thermo Fisher, to bring college and career focused enrichment into an extended learning day. Through hands-on, project-based apprenticeships, students connect the lessons they learn during school hours with their real-world applications beyond the classroom.
What Citizen Schools and its corporate partners have learned is that by giving students the extra attention they need – and the tools to do serious coursework – they are motivated to succeed and able to imagine themselves in meaningful careers. “It’s all about introducing them to new horizons” says David Liebowitz, principal at Joseph Browne. “There’s no way of knowing what the impact will be.”
Lainelys Albizu is one who can’t wait to unpack the bag and get going.
“I was excited to start experiments because my sister made a volcano last year that exploded,” said the ten-year-old. “But this has made me want to experiment even more. And now I feel safer doing it.”
Spoken like a true scientist.
Over 50 Thermo Fisher employees have taught nearly 40 Citizen Schools apprenticeships in Massachusetts, Illinois and California since 2011. Thermo Fisher representatives delivered Safety Lab Kits to students in Chicago as well.