Cena y Ciencias Outreach Program Continues to Reach Kids with Take-Home Summer Science Kits

5/27/2020 12:21:41 PM

On May 22, Cena y Ciencias posted on Facebook "Los kits de verano de Cena y Ciencias están listos! Haz 'Like' a nuestra página de Facebook para estar al día sobre cuándo y dónde pueden recogerlos!" which translates to "Dinner & Science Summer Kits are ready! 'Like' our Facebook page to stay up to date on when and where you can pick them up!"  Cena y Ciencias (supper & science) is an outreach program that is still finding ways to connect with the community even during a pandemic.  

"Our first distribution will happen Thursday, May 28, 2020 in various neighborhoods where our families live. We will obey CDC guidelines and have the kits prepared ahead of time so they can sit a few days between when we touch them and when the families touch them," says Sharlene Denos, one of the Cena y Ciencias organizers.

The group partners with the Urbana 116 Family Liaisons who have several modes of reaching with dual-language and other Latino families in order to communicate the availability of these kits.  Initially, the outreach communication will be virtual in order to abide by the current CDC recommendations to keep everyone safe during this pandemic, but the group hopes to have a celebration of some kind toward the end of the summer in some of the neighborhoods where families live.

The Cena y Ciencias team worked as a group to develop the idea, based on the teacher’s input (see below) and the input from our Latino Family Liaisons, who wanted to choose something the children could do alone or with minimal help from parents. 

The focus is on gardening and plants. This relates back to CPLC's summer teacher workshop from last summer in which schools developed plans for science-themed school gardens.  This workshop included teams of teachers from all three dual language schools (Dr. Williams, Leal, and IPA) and was led by the Center for the Physics of the Living Cell (CPLC) in collaboration with Uni High Chemistry and Spanish teachers, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and a few others. The teachers were required to plan a school-wide science initiative.

Cena y Ciencias Summer Kits

The group plans to make 70 kits to begin the summer, possibly making more if there's demand, to 40-100 families within Urbana.  If the remote programming goes well this summer, the team plans to expand into Champaign as well as further into Urbana for Fall 2020.

To learn more about this group and their program, please check out the Cena y Ciencias Facebook page.

Cena y Ciencias (Supper and Science) is a joint effort between the University of Illinois, Urbana and Champaign school districts Dual Language programs, and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos, Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). This outreach program started in 2013 for elementary school students in dual language programs in the Urbana School district and has recently been expanded to Champaign and also to the middle school in Urbana. The program content is developed collaboratively in weekly meetings attended by University of Illinois STEM faculty, graduate students, and staff, as well as by Urbana 116 and Champaign Unit 4 Dual Language program parents, teachers, and staff. The activities are coordinated by U. of I. students and presented in Spanish by students from SACNAS, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and other unaffiliated volunteers. The majority of program developers and leaders are Hispanic or Latino and are native Spanish speakers. The program content and scientific expertise has been supported by NSF research centers in the Grainger College of Engineering, including the Center for the Physics of the Living Cell (CPLC), the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC) and the Grainger IDEA Institute