Thursday, April 29, 2010

Connecting Hearts and Minds.

Have you ever wondered what is missing?  Have you always wanted to do something more?  I don't know if I'm really conveying what I am trying to say in a clear way but I hope you stick with me as I continue.

I have always known that I wanted to more.  To do something outside of work, contribute to something.  Help in some way.  I am a perfectly capable, reasonably intelligent and rather compassionate person so I was always on the lookout for an opportunity.

The first time I volunteered, as an adult, was at the Humane Society.  I can't remember what title they gave me but basically I was there to help match people with animals.  My theory was that dogs would be more grateful than some snot nosed kid.  Get information about their family and help them select a dog that would be a good fit.  I instantly loved it.  After that, I went to work for a non-profit animal care and education center.  When my career path changed again, I had many opportunities provided through my employer.   Whether I was sorting pallets of groceries for a food pantry or donating blood, I had several opportunities to give back.  Of course, this wasn't a selfless act, it made me feel good. That's what I get from helping others or contributing to something, a warm & fuzzy feeling.

So when I had an opportunity at work to help foster some community involvement among my colleagues through the Time Warner Cable Connect A Million Minds program, I jumped at the chance.  For a couple months we have been working on gathering a group of volunteers, getting them trained and learning the curriculum to teach kids all about the technology behind cable television. 

Believe it or not, getting a room full of engineers to speak to kids about technology on a level that a 5th grader can understand isn't the easiest thing.  They start talking in acronyms and use words like "granular" and it just isn't a good thing.  Kids get that glossed over look on their faces and start zoning out then immediately reach for their cell phones to start texting someone.

By the way, texting when someone is talking to you is just plain obnoxious.  And um, yeah, I'm sorry because I have totally done that like a jillion times.

Back to the minds.  Yes! The Minds!  The kids, they were like IN TO the stuff.  We had some interactive things for them to do like assemble binary code, understand geosynchronous orbit, yeah, stuff like that.  Anyway, they totally got it.  Like for real!  And after I heard some of the kids telling folks what they learned and I heard things like "Yeah, it was really cool.  We learned about tv signals and stuff."  Here's a story from the Wall Street Journal about the curriculum we covered.

That.  That right there, it just made my day.  Not that I didn't love it when the dogs at the shelter wagged their tails, but hearing the kids talk about what they just learned, that was cool.  We actually taught them something!  We have worked for months to reach this point and I was nervous as crap but it went off without a hitch.  Not only that, the kids enjoyed it.  Almost as much as the mentor volunteers. 

Visit the CAMM website today and make your pledge.  Post your opportunity on the Connectory.  Who knows, maybe I will be calling you tomorrow to let you know that I have a room full of volunteers eagerly waiting to mentor your Girl Scout or Boy Scout group earn a badge in technology.  We're just itching to help your after school program achieve their STEM goals.   Ok, not literally itching.  We won't bring chicken pox with us or anything. 

1 comment:

Heather said...

That really is awesome!!