(3) My last few weeks with Science Clubs International

The opportunity to spend this summer working with Science Clubs International  (SCI) allowed me to grow and learn in many ways. Having the chance to be involved in such an impactful organization certainly shaped my goals for my professional career. I understand the importance of making science education accessible to spark social transformation, especially in Latin America where there aren’t as many opportunities in the field. Teaching high school and college students about the impact scientific research can have on the world and introducing them to the field is the way to create change-makers. Through engaging assignments, I have grown into a better educator, collaborator, student, researcher, coordinator, and team member. My confidence and understanding of non-profit STEM education has grown, and I know I want to continue collaborating and working with a project like this in the future.

During my time with SCI, my confidence working in a professional environment increased. As an intern, I have been involved in the growth, development, and organization of an SCI international event that will happen next month for over 300+ students from different countries. Every year, the organization hosts young scientists, graduate students, and postdocs to share their knowledge and stories about pursuing careers in science with high school and college students, and to organize workshops to offer a hands-on scientific experience for them. As I worked in the organization of the event, I demonstrated initiative by increasing the number of Brazilian students applying to the event. I improved my communication skills by translating the website, documents, and tutorials across three languages: Portuguese, Spanish and English. While I’m working at the event next month, I’ll be able to see all of our work actually coming to life.

I’m proud of all of the work I’ve been involved in this summer and grateful I had the opportunity to pursue this internship. For those interested in interning with SCI or a similar organization, I believe I can offer advice on how you can make the most of your internship experience.

The main advice I would give is to learn from the experience each professional brings to the team. I understand that as an intern, it may seem scary to approach them in the work environment, but most individuals are open to talking about their careers in and contributions to the STEM nonprofit sector. When I felt comfortable doing that, I received extreme support from those I work with, developed a professional relationship with them, and learned to better advocate for what I believe.

Working with SCI was an incredible experience. This is something that I have always wanted to do since I participated in one of their programs in high school, and being able to be on the inside and learn how everything is put together was a rewarding experience. I also loved reflecting on my experiences by writing these blog posts throughout the summer. I hope  these posts inspire other students to pursue similar internships and apply to be a part of the wonderful WOW cohort in the coming years.

(2) My Experience at Science Clubs International

I have been working with Science Clubs International (SCI) for over a month and my position has been more exciting than I expected. I have been able to do regular team meetings and truly feel a part of the organization itself. When I first decided to pursue this internship, my goal was to learn more about outreach STEM opportunities. Now, I’m helping organize a six weekend-long international event with ten workshops for +300 high school and college students.

Since my last blog post, the open call for students interested in participating in the event opened. I was assigned as one of the people responsible for reviewing the students’ applications according to the program’s rubric. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the application process, helping in the selection of students. A few years back I was the one applying to one of SCI’s programs. Right now, I’m mainly responsible for assessing Portuguese and English-speaking applicants, since I’m fluent in both of those languages. Included below is the information about the open call for students, which is a large part of my work right now. Check out SCI’s Instagram page to learn more about the program and deadlines!

Compared to my academic work at Brandeis, my working dynamics require me to be self-motivated. For one, the work is completed remotely, and as an incoming sophomore, I didn’t experience the Brandeis COVID era. Although I enjoy being in the comfort of my home, I try to change my clothes, close random web pages, and truly experience the workspace from my computer screen. Also, besides some regular team meetings at assigned times, I’m given tasks to mainly work on alone at my own pace. Not having restricted deadlines lead me to look for ways to organize my time productively. Every day I make a list of what I have to do and assign a time for each task. Doing my tasks as soon as I’m given them also helps me feel better about my work. Additionally, I believe the absence of grades combined with the possibility of improving my work after feedback allows me to explore new ideas, embrace challenges, and go beyond my comfort zone.

Lastly, the internship has been a challenging yet amazing opportunity to improve my Spanish skills. At Brandeis, I took Spanish 105, focused on writing/reading, and the knowledge from this class has been helpful in my internship. Some of my main tasks in the internship are translating documents/forms to Portuguese/Spanish/English, and having acquired this knowledge in the previous semester at Brandeis has been helpful. Most of the SCI’s team also comes from Spanish-speaking countries and Spanish sometimes is the main language during a Zoom meeting. I believe that by knowing the three languages used by SCI’s team, I can take more advantage of this internship opportunity and reach more students.

I enjoy reading all of the WOW recipients’ blog posts and I’m grateful to be a part of such an incredible cohort.

(1) Sparking social change through STEM education

This month, I started my summer internship at Science Clubs International, a nonprofit organization that aims to spark social change by expanding access to high-quality STEM education. Founded in 2016, SCI has the goal of supporting the growth and organization of Clubes de Ciencia (Science Clubs) internationally. This is a program that invites scientists, graduate students, and postdocs to share their stories of pursuing careers in science with high school and college students and to conduct a series of intensive, hands-on workshops on topics across multiple STEM fields. SCI currently has clubs in eight countries: Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Spain, and the U.S. They organized +600 clubs around the world, with +25000 hours of activities and +15000 students involved.

I realized I wanted to work with SCI when I participated in one of their clubs back in high school, so I know from first-hand experience the impact this initiative can have on young students by boosting their confidence and reassuring them that they belong in STEM. Additionally, during high school, I taught mathematics to young girls and adults, which helped me understand how STEM education is essential to thriving in today’s rapidly changing world, creating community-oriented citizens, and empowering changemakers.  As a Biology and Neuroscience double major, I know the importance of breaking barriers in STEM, and I’m eager to work with an NGO that perfectly aligns with my goal to further develop outreach for scientific educational opportunities, especially for Latin American students.

I’m currently working on the development a six-day online event that will happen in September with +300 students from different parts of the America Continent. The event will happen in three languages— Portuguese, Spanish, and English—and will host panels with scientists from around the world, workshops with specific themes, and presentations at the end where students will showcase what they learned. This will be the second edition of the event and we’re currently selecting the mentors that will coordinate each one of the workshops (clubs).

At SCI, I work on the technology committee and my main task is to supervise and improve the STEM educational online platform developed for running the program. This includes analyzing and testing the platform’s requirements, enhancing its performance, creating comprehensive guides to ease the platform use, facilitating the students’ engagement and participation during the event, giving technical support to students and other committees, directly talking to and helping Portuguese-speaking students navigate the event, and other duties as assigned. 

The work I’m responsible for this summer will contribute to the organization and success of the second international edition of the Science Clubs Event, therefore furthering SCI’s mission. I’m currently writing guides on how to sign in to the platform, and these guides will make it easier for students to apply for the program. Additionally, by translating the guides/platform to Portuguese, Spanish, and English, I’m helping to make the program more accessible to students. I’m excited to get to know the team of renowned scientists working side by side with me and learn from their experiences developing such an amazing program.