ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As an elementary school student, Chad Barbe dreamed of growing up to be a scientist as he sat in his classroom of School 58 in Rochester, N.Y. Today, 15 years later, Barbe is living his dream. What helped him develop his love? In its own way, a science program run by Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX).
After 40 years, Xerox Corporation’s Science Consultant Program has touched children in the Rochester School District with one goal in mind – to make science and math interesting to kids. Today, Barbe, a software engineer at Xerox, is passing along his passion for science in hope that the kids he works with choose a similar path. He is just one of close to 40,000 students Xerox has touched through its 40 years of providing hands-on science lessons.
The Xerox Science Consultant Program, which targets students in elementary schools (third to sixth grades), partners Xerox scientists, engineers and other technical employees with schools, teachers and classrooms and is one of the most enduring industry-education initiatives in the country. Consultants deliver more than 55 science lessons in biology, chemistry, earth science and physics.
“As a graduate of the Rochester City School District, I know first-hand the challenges of educating a student body that lives predominantly in urban areas, some under the poverty level,” said Barbe. “I remember the Xerox Invention Convention at School 58, and the ear muff device I made for the competition. It was the beginning of a life full of experiments. So I guess I could be considered living proof of the good things that come out of this initiative!”
Barbe, who recently served as a science consultant in School 29, is one of more than 100 researchers and engineers who will visit classrooms this school year to conduct hands-on science lessons that reinforce the teachers’ curriculums.
“American universities are graduating fewer scientists and engineers than their global competitors. As a result companies like Xerox, which depend on innovation and creativity, must cultivate an interest in science and engineering education to fuel our future success,” said Ursula Burns, Xerox president. “As proud as I am of the inventions incubating in Xerox labs, I am also inspired by the grassroots efforts, like the Science Consultant program, that ensure there will be a next generation of great American inventors.”
The program began in 1968 through a partnership with the Rochester City School District, the American Chemical Society and Rochester-based companies, including Xerox. As others’ participation waned, Xerox took on the program with a zeal that permeates the program and its people today. In the 1990s, Xerox expanded the program to include schools in Webster, N.Y. Last year, Xerox began a partnership with Portland Public Schools in Oregon which taps into the company's employees that are based in nearby Wilsonville.
“The practical simplicity that the Xerox consultants use to demonstrate science concepts works to reinforce the lesson that the student is learning in the classroom,” said Michael Chan, director of science for the Rochester City School District. “The partnership benefits not only our students, but our teachers as well. We have seen very good results from continued reinforcement of basic concepts in our students, and our teachers welcome the added resource.”
Teachers enthused, too
“The children are always extremely excited when they know a Xerox consultant is coming to class,” said Rosalind LeBlanc, who has been an instructor for eight years at School 16 in Rochester. “One of the best parts of the program is that Xerox consultants provide us the lesson plans in advance, and we have an opportunity to prepare the students and familiarize them with some of the vocabulary associated with a lesson. It enables us to integrate the hands-on lesson with ongoing instruction before and after the consultant visits.”
Focused on results
The Xerox Science Consultant Program annually surveys students and teachers to monitor progress and obtain feedback. Among the many comments, students said that XSCP helped them gain a better understanding of science and resulted in higher achievement; it helped them to see different ideas and to appreciate them. They also reported that the program opened up a dialogue with their parents about science, and as a result, parents became more involved. From the teacher’s perspective, many voiced an overall satisfaction with the program. They viewed the consultants as positive role models for students. In 2005-2006, close to 90 percent of teachers agreed that the Science Consultant Program helps to prepare their fourth-grade students for the New York State science exam.
Xerox and educational support
The Xerox Foundation funds a variety of educational programs, including University Affairs Grants, Xerox’s technical minority scholarships, scholarship support to more than 140 colleges and universities, and matching employees’ gifts to educational institutions. Earlier this year, Xerox provided a $1 million grant to fund fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and another $1 million to the National Academy Foundation. In addition to their work on the Xerox Science Consultants Program, Xerox people champion science in schools by mentoring high school FIRST robotics-competition teams.
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