Campus News Society & Culture

UGA education profs, students work with Latino middle school students

UGA education profs, students work with Latino middle school students

Athens, Ga. – A group of University of Georgia education professors and students are conducting several Saturday workshops focusing on science topics and college preparation for nearly two dozen local Latino middle school students and their parents.

The program, which began with a Saturday workshop last month at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School in Athens-Clarke County, is being funded by a Hispanic Scholarship Fund grant, according to its directors, Martha Allexsaht-Snider and Corey Buxton, both associate professors in the College of Education’s department of elementary and social studies education.

“For me, the project is primarily about making things explicit that are sometimes implicit or taken for granted,” said Buxton. “Parents tell us that they want to help their kids succeed in school but often don’t know the most effective things they can do.

“Communicating scientifically is an academic expectation, but academic language is rarely explicitly taught in science class – a major challenge for English learners. Kids know that they want to do well in school and go to college, but often don’t know that they have choices that can influence this – such as insisting on taking more math and science courses or taking the PSAT in 10th grade,” he said. “This kind of information, along with the motivation that comes from coming to campus, participating in experiments in a research lab and hearing from successful Latino scientists and college students are the kinds of things that can make a difference in only four workshops.”

About two dozen Latino BHL students and 15 parents attended the workshop February 21 at UGA’s food science laboratories in Conner Hall. Students rotated around stations performing science experiments and tasting food concoctions.

This Saturday, the middle school students will visit UGA’s kinesiology labs at the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities, where they will study the science of exercise and sports.

Two UGA student assistants are involved in the program: Carlos Rivera, an undergraduate who also works in UGA’s Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education; and Luis Rivas, a graduate student who is applying to the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

Others assisting with the workshops include a group of College of Education graduation student volunteers, four visiting teacher educators from Mexico, six BHL teachers led by principal Melanie Sigler.

Another workshop is scheduled on Saturday, March 28 at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School.