My Afternoon/Evening of Volunteering

Yesterday was a special day for me! I spent the afternoon leading a team of judges for Haley Elementary Science Fair and the evening talking to parents about projects. I want to share the journey from setting up getting the volunteer judges to judging and finishing up with the evening events.

Getting volunteers sometimes is difficult. Especially since this has to happen during the workday. This year I used my internal social media tools to get potential volunteers. I blogged about needing some judges – what it was about, what they would be doing and last year’s experience. Updated my status – looking for judges.. Tweeted out on Twitter. Got my list of candidates month in advance. I always make sure to get plenty because as time went on, priorities change and work gets in the way – so we lost some judges.

The day of the event! I was nervous about the event – will I have enough judges and will they all show up kept running through my head. To start the day, a couple judges had to conflicts that they just could not avoid. So, I reach out to a few friends just in case. Before I knew it, it was time to travel to the school. On the way, I had a few calls to make – getting some judges on speed dial… Arrived and checked in – I then walked through the tables of 5th and 6th grade projects. I was pretty impressed with the level this year (overall better than last year). As my judges showed up, we got together and split up the judging into teams and attacked the judging just like any other project. Each team spent the next 3 plus hours reviewing over 25 science project reports and boards. Using the supplied scoring sheets to help us guide through what needs to be reviewed. The top 6 get selected to go onto the next review. Wow, my head hurt at the end. This year, I saw a few projects that were out of the norm for 6th grade (very nice to see). At the end, the judges were tried, but were very happy with the experience.

Next up is – an evening viewing of all grades science projects, where the students, their siblings and parents come in and get to share in their science project experiences.  Watching the students show off their work to mom and dad – priceless. What I really enjoyed were the number of parents that expressed their “I’m impressed, job well done” to their kids. Simple words that go a long way…

This year, the Haley teachers and staff added many different items to make the evening really special.

  • Math breakout sessions where the students and parents could learn fun new ways to help teach math at home.
  • A reptile exhibit were the parents and students could touch. Well, the students did most of the touching. That snake was huge!
  • Out on the sport court, telescopes set up for planet viewing.
  • The student council was selling snacks – all proceeds donated to Haiti Relief efforts.

It was just a great day for the students, teachers and staff of Haley Elementary. My team enjoyed themselves… And I definitely had a great time. I am looking forward to doing this again next year…