Community Service: Schweitzer Fellows
By Kathryn LoConte
Four students spent the year making a local difference as New Hampshire and Vermont Schweitzer Fellows. The Schweitzer Fellowships provide funding for 200 hours of project work addressing the needs of underserved populations.
Kristen Lurie ’08 and Rose Mutiso ’08 organized, sponsored, and advised a girls’ LEGO robot-building team at the Hanover Street School in Lebanon, N.H. Calling themselves the Lebanon Lightning LEGOs, the team’s research project won first place in a regional competition. “The girls really became excited about robotics,” Lurie says. “I think people were really impressed with the all girls’ team.”
The girls impressed Lurie and Mutiso, too. “Everyone was able to benefit at their own level,” says Lurie. “All the 5th graders plan on continuing next year.”
In another project, Schweitzer Fellows Kara Podkaminer and Clara Smith worked with high school seniors in a class on energy and the environment at the Sharon Academy in Vermont. The Fellows developed discussions on hybrid technology, fuels, trucking, public transportation, and public perceptions. “The idea was to have students understand the interconnections between business and environment,” says Smith.
Smith and Podkaminer want to build more connections. “I would like to see more students at Thayer going back into high school and/or lower teaching grades to get the wake-up call,” says Smith. “These students would like to see what college students are doing, that being a science major isn’t all that scary, and that engineers aren’t the stereotypical male with a pocket protector and glasses.”