University News

BRYTE Science Day brings refugee youth to College Hill

Student-run booths provide enrichment activities in second annual event

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2015

Volunteers Pia Ceres '17 and Richelle Zheng '16, pictured above, worked with refugee children during Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment's Science Day to show students that science can be fun and engaging.

The Kasper Multipurpose Room bustled with energetic children Saturday, as Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment hosted its second annual Science Day. The student group, which matches Brown student tutors with immigrated refugee children, invited tutees of all ages to attend a science fair presented by students and organizations.

The children flocked to booths created by BRYTE tutors, members of other student groups and student volunteers. Activities at the booths included building DNA from licorice and gummy bears, drawing electrical currents and engaging with compost made of chocolate desserts by SCRAP, a student composting group.

One of BRYTE’s main goals is filling the gaps in students’ science education, said Hannah Acheson-Field ’15, one of the event’s organizers.

“The biggest thing was to show BRYTE kids that science is really fun,” she said. “In elementary school STEM education, that sometimes doesn’t show through, especially now when schools are so underfunded.”

Science Day “brings the greater BRYTE community together” and “fosters relationships between tutees who have never seen each other before and also tutors,” said Daniel Wilhite ’16, BRYTE’s community events coordinator.

The day gave Brown students the chance to get involved with BRYTE in a way that did not require the large time commitment of tutoring, Acheson-Field said.

“We wanted a chance to volunteer and give back to the community,” said Mitch Panton ’16, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers. The NSBE hosted a booth at which children built towers with marshmallows and dried spaghetti — an activity designed to introduce children to the engineering process from start to finish, Panton said.

This year, some of the older tutees ran booths for their younger peers because BRYTE members “wanted to give the high schoolers more leadership opportunities,” said Sophia Gluskin-Braun ’17, another event organizer.

Tutees in the eighth grade or beyond also had the opportunity to tour Barus and Holley and Brown Emergency Medical Services, where they learned cardiopulmonary resuscitation, explored the interior of an ambulance and saw two science labs, said Kate Janover ’18, a BRYTE tutor.

Erick Mahoro, an older tutee, said he was thrilled “to actually work with real stuff” at Science Day.

“I learned new things that I didn’t know,” said Dahaba Tuka, a younger tutee.

Wilhite, Acheson-Field and Gluskin-Braun began planning Science Day in September, Gluskin-Braun said. In October and November, they began reaching out to other student groups to further develop a plan for the event, she added.

The group ran into financial obstacles when the Undergraduate Finance Board reduced its funding on the grounds that the event was not beneficial enough to the University community, Acheson-Field said. Fortunately for BRYTE, donations from alums and other student groups, such as Brown University Women in Business and the Brown CubeSat Team, allowed the organization to fulfill its vision for the day.