Student Pair Creates Science Education Initiative for Kids

August 3, 2020
Hillary Hempstead
Two cartoon otters holding a magnifying glass.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Discovery Crew

After the cancelation of children’s in-person summer camps and educational experiences due to the pandemic, fourth-year neuroscience and biology double-major Victoria Fisher and third-year chemistry and biochemistry double-major Becca Fenselau saw a need for alternative forms of science education for kids. The pair cofounded the Discovery Crew, an initiative that offers at-home STEM exploration videos for young learners. 

We asked Fisher and Fenselau about the Discovery Crew and their plans for its future. Read our Q&A with the pair.

Why did you create the Discovery Crew, and how did it come together? 

Tori Fisher ‘21, a woman wearing a black sweater, smiling.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Tori Fisher ‘21

This project began when we were discussing our summer plans. Many of the opportunities for summer research and internships were no longer available to us. We also knew that the majority of summer programming for kids was also canceled. Because we knew that a lot of very talented STEM, film, and art majors would be projectless and there were going to be a lot of bored kids out there, making STEM videos for kids followed fairly naturally. 

Can you explain how the program works?

For the summer, we chose five topics: animals, oceans, colors, space, and engineering. We assigned a group of individuals to write, film, create art for, and edit the final video on a subtopic within each of those fields. From there, it took about four to five weeks of Zoom meetings, working and reworking the content, and then finally posting the videos to YouTube. Our hope is that kids, parents, and educators will be able to follow the videos and activities to learn about the topic in a virtual, safe, and interactive environment.

Who are the students that make up the Discovery Crew? 

 Becca Fenselau ‘22, a woman with blonde hair, smiling and wearing white shirt.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Becca Fenselau ‘22

Coming from a school like Oberlin there is no shortage of incredibly talented individuals. We also serve as editors-in-chief of the Synapse, which gives us unique access to individuals who have strong STEM and art backgrounds. So, we reached out to the majority of our network, both at Oberlin College and beyond, and let anyone who was interested join. The group continued expanding, and our team now includes students from all over the country and abroad. 

How have you been getting the word out about the program?

We have a dedicated subteam of contributors who are working on our social media platforms. It’s all about the personal connections. So, we’ve been communicating with our old middle and elementary schools, spreading the word on Facebook in parent groups, and talking to different places, such as camps and libraries. 

What's been the most memorable experience in this process?

We had the opportunity to meet with Jordan Matter, a professional YouTuber, to get his feedback on our project early on in its development. The conversation completely shifted our perspective, helping us to recognize that, for children, the video needs to be just as entertaining as it is educational. 

What are your hopes for the young learners who participate? 

We hope that young learners who watch this get really excited about science, but not just because it’s really interesting material. We want them to feel like this is something they can be involved in no matter their background—which is why we emphasize easy at-home activities they can do with their families. 

What's next for the Discovery Crew? Will the program continue?

We are currently in the process of figuring out what we plan to do. We are hoping to continue making fun, educational science videos as we move out of the summer. If anyone—student or staff alike—are interested in joining the project, feel free to contact us at summerofscience2@gmail.com.

Watch the Discovery Crew video, "Climate Change and the Ocean."

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