Electric Mondays Students in Jon Erickson's Electrical Circuits course are learning through teaching local elementary school students.
Jon Erickson was excited to rekindle his “Electric Mondays” partnership with the Rockbridge YMCA to enrich science programming for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders enrolled in the YMCA’s after-school program.
Undergraduate students in Erickson’s ENGN/PHYS 207: Electrical Circuits course, which offers practical experience in designing, building, testing and analyzing real-world circuit systems, incorporates a site-based component to each student’s lab learning in coordination with the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL).
The after-school program takes place from 3-4 p.m. on Mondays for six to eight weeks during the Fall Term. The W&L students, known as the “Circuits crew,” are asked to develop and implement after-school modules based on course material from ENGN/PHYS 207. Students are also asked to write short, critical reflections to evaluate each module, which serves to inform the CBL content of the course each time it is offered in subsequent years. Reflection pieces are also intended to help W&L students understand the role of engineers in society.
“This is definitely different than the sort of experience students would just have on campus and it pushes them in different ways to help each other,” Erickson said, “whether that’s to celebrate or commiserate.”
Community-based learning courses are designed to help participants collaborate effectively and respectfully with community partners such as the YMCA, integrate classroom learning experiences with community learning experiences, and facilitate experiential learning and high-impact teaching practices for faculty.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the course has not been back in the local after-school program since 2019. Erickson said he was pleased to be able to reintegrate the elementary education portion of the course back into the course schedule due to its ability to provide supplemental science instruction to local elementary school students given recent statewide declines in pass rates on Virginia Standards of Learning and Alternate Assessment Program tests.
“One of the areas that has been hit the hardest is in science,” Erickson said, “so there is a sense of social responsibility. We’re excited to get back to it.”