Penpals 2017-2018: A Year in Review
The Stanford Science Penpals program completes another successful year of letter writing!
Special thanks to all of the Stanford Graduate volunteers who took time away from their busy schedules to write multiple letters to excited high-school students from all over the US (graph below).
This year the program corresponded with 7 different highschools for a total of around 250 penpals, more than any year prior!
Topics of penpal exchanges ranged from general conversations of philosophy, life, and science, to hobbies and interests outside of the classroom.
Through surveys, the students indicated that they most enjoyed getting to talk to grad students as peers and learn more about what science means as a day-to-day job. Many high-schoolers also indicated that they appreciated college advice.
Letters became longer and more detailed each correspondence as the high-schoolers and graduate students learned more about each other. Even the letters became more ornate, taking the form of flip-books, pop-out-books, and even sealed with wax!
This was the first year where we implemented "Ask A Stanford Scientist" where high-schoolers could use an online submission to ask any question they had and receive a response from one or more graduate students who are leaders in knowlege of that field! This program was spearheaded by Erin Sanders and is always open for questions.
This year also marked the first time where high-schoolers could take a deep dive into the background and motivations of certain graduate students in the "My Science Story" series. We were excited to showcase the diverse backgrounds that somehow all converged on a love of science that brought these fantastic researchers to Stanford. We hope this program allows high-school students to see themselves in one of these stories and understand the anyone can become a scientist.
“It gave my students another avenue to explore school/career options. It was good for them to see how diverse their opportunities are in the future.”
“Students were able to be creative with their replies. Students had something else to look forward to in class every month.”
“It generated interest in science. It gave the female students strong role models and the opportunity to see what opportunities are available for their future.”
“I loved the supplemental lesson plans provided , particularly sharing the "Who are the Science Pen Pals?" document with my students”
“Thank you thank you thank you my students always look forward to their letters. I also think it has helped me figure out how to integrate learning about diversity in science into my classes.”