ARMS Gets Young Students Into Sciences
Successful Afterschool Program Brings UW-Madison Scientists Together with Local Kids
by Amira Caire, age 15
Developed in 1990 by Lyle Hill and Bob Heidman, the Adult
Role Models in Science program, better known as ARMS, is a partnership
between children and adults handled by the UW-Madison Institute for
Biology Education. Their mission is to improve science education in
elementary and middle schools through long-term community collaboration.
The ARMS program offers a range of educational programs. Each
program plays a different role in children’s science education. ARMS
programming is available at these Madison schools: Frank Ellis, Emerson,
Hawthorne, Lake View, Lincoln, Lowell, Mendota, and Glendale.
After-School Science Clubs are the primary activity of the ARMS
program. These clubs operate during after-school hours and children can
work at their own pace. Science education involves testing,
experimentation, exploration and asking questions. University and
community members with strong skills in various science fields work
alongside staff members from the schools. Participants are K-8 students.
ARMS offers eight-week after-school science sessions each semester at
elementary schools, middle schools, and local community centers.
Family Science Events give parents a chance to get involved
with their children’s science education. When parents are seen learning
science and showing an interest, they become adult role models for their
children. During these events, the children are referred to as “the
experts.” It’s the students who present what they have learned to adults
and peers. These hands-on presentations help families engage with the
process of science.
Volunteers play a critical role
in achieving the ARMS mission. They engage students in science
projects. They also make student learning more relevant by connecting
scientific ideas to their real-life applications in the community. ARMS
Volunteers include UW-Madison students in the sciences, UW faculty and
staff, and scientists from government, industry and business.
The Engage Children in Science program allows graduate and
undergraduate scientists at UW-Madison to demonstrate their enthusiasm
and expertise to younger students. This course provides children and
learners hands-on experiences, information, and chances for dialogue and
We watched students at work recently
during an after-school activity at Wright Middle School. Every child
seemed to have a natural desire to actively explore, make connections
and understand their world. We think providing a positive science
experience during childhood is necessary and important. These
experiences will prepare students for future learning.
all about exploring and discovering and can be found everywhere. Adults
can act as role models to support children’s explorations. Their job is
to listen, observe, share interesting and relevant materials and
deliver a positive message about the value of science.
We applaud the excellent work of ARMS. It’s a common sense idea that brings adults and kids together in pursuit of knowledge.
[Sources: www.biology.wisc.edu; www.news.wisc.edu]