The members of Learning and Inspiration For Everyone (LIFE) start walking towards Weyanoke Elementary School every Friday at 2:30 for an hour-long session with their mentees, in which they discuss a topic relating to science and conduct an easy, hands-on experiment that relates to the topic. LIFE strives to inspire elementary school students with learning disabilities about STEM, and to help develop their communication skills.
“It’s very important for the students because they’re placed in this program because they have disabilities, so they have a slower paced curriculum,” senior and director of LIFE MinJoo Kang said. “We’re working as mentors to cultivate their interests in STEM through science demonstrations, and they’re very interactive and hands-on, so they explain things in a simple way.”
LIFE only operates on funds from TJ and is of no cost to Weyanoke Elementary.
“We’re basically doing this for free and voluntarily, it doesn’t cost the school [Weyanoke Elementary] anything, so if schools are lacking resources, this is a great outreach program we can use to help these schools that are still developing. It’s also a good way of showing these schools how important it is because they might be able to get funding, but might not do it because they think they don’t have a reason to, so we’re showing how much the students enjoy it and how much they benefit from it,” Kang said.
The club holds team meetings for officers every Tuesday, allowing for more communication, which helps the program run more smoothly.
““From this program, the most important thing I learned is cooperation and just working with everyone and collaborating as a family,” senior and media coordinator Radhika Agrawal said. “This year LIFE is really close-knit, which is different from how it was in the past. Bonding with a buddy is also really cool. I also learn how to teach people and talk slowly and explain things in a way other people understand them, which is a really important skill.”
Not only is LIFE beneficial for the elementary schoolers in the program, it is also an opportunity for the mentors to learn new things.
“Personally I think that I’ve learned to see things from a new perspective because I’ve made things that I never thought were interesting before, but by working with my mentee and having to explain how stuff works, it’s really cool to see how everything we show them works together,” junior and historian Christine Wang said.
In order to raise funds, the club held a bake sale on Dec. 16 in which they sold brownies, cookies, lemon bars, and cupcakes.
“It’s the first fundraiser we’re doing for the club,” Kang said. “We’ve been relying on the grant fund we received when the club was first founded for the last few years, and our funds are running low now, so we’re going to fundraise a lot this year, so hopefully this will kick off the fundraising aspect of the club because it’s something we really need to work on.”