The STIMULUS programme has created 362 placements for Cambridge student volunteers in local schools this year - a new annual record!
STIMULUS is a community service programme which gives Cambridge University students the opportunity to work with pupils in local primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges, helping with Maths, Science and Computing lessons. Volunteers sign up for a term at a time, working in their assigned school for one afternoon each week.
This year, STIMULUS has also expanded to include a collaboration with the national Code Clubs network. 30 of the STIMULUS student volunteers are running weekly Code Clubs in 10 primary schools within the city of Cambridge, introducing primary school children to computer programming.
STIMULUS benefits everyone involved. From the schools' point of view, the volunteers not only provide an extra pair of helping hands in the classroom, but are also role models who can share their inspiration and enthusiasm for their subject. STIMULUS volunteers might help with science practicals; or work with particularly able pupils to extend them; or offer extra support to children struggling with their work. In primary schools, their subject expertise is often particularly appreciated by non-specialist teachers. "It's fantastic for students to have the opportunity to discuss science informally with passionate, knowledgeable and 'real' scientists not much further down the study route than they are," commented one teacher. "We are always delighted to welcome STIMULUS students to the school," wrote another. "They are excellent role models and ambassadors for both their subjects and the University."
For the student volunteers, their STIMULUS placement is not only enjoyable and a great way to give something back to the community, but also helps to develop confidence, communication and leadership skills. For most volunteers, though, the primary motivation for taking part is sharing their love of the subjects they study and the sense that in doing so they are having a real impact on the children and students they work with. "STIMULUS has given me the opportunity to reach out to help students understand and appreciate what they are learning better", commented one volunteer. "It has been a joy for me to be involved in, something that I always look forward to every week."
Find out more on the STIMULUS programme website.