In 2020 we waited until we would “go back to normal.” We were proud of our proactive and quick work to quickly transition the snail mail program into an electronic one, but in 2021 we realized we are never going back to normal. In 2020 we were energized to be persistent and determined to stay afloat while we thought we were ‘weathering the storm’. In 2021, we accepted this new reality and instead became more adaptive and sustainable.
Since we work in academic years, 2021 began halfway through the 2020-21 school year. All but two of our classrooms were learning 100% remotely. Our program had been designed to adapt to school settings that changed often between 100% remote learning, 100% in person learning and a combination of the two- a hybrid model. From January 2021-June 2021 our LPS teachers facilitated 52 letter opening parties; 42 virtual letter opening parties and 10 in person.
37 LPS classrooms, 16 LPS teachers
- 1,574 STEM pen pal letters sent
- 715 pre-scientist letters sent
- 33 letter opening parties
- 731 pre-scientist letters sent
- 794 STEM pen pal letters sent
- 44 letter opening parties
In the summer of 2021, realizing we will never “go back to normal,” we prepared to facilitate the program both in person and virtually and a combination of the two so we were ready for all possible classroom settings. We are already halfway through the 2021-22 school year and all of our 800+ pre-scientists are learning about engineering, robotics, psychology, evolution and more areas of STEM through our snail mail program model with physical letters!
35 LPS classrooms, 20 LPS teachers
- 2,525 STEM professionals registered for the 2021-22 program
- 1,755 STEM professionals eligible to be matched with a pre-scientist in the 2021-22 school year
- 850 STEM professionals matched with pre-scientists
- 846 STEM pen pal letters sent
- 769 pre-scientist letters sent
- 28 letter opening parties
This school year has presented many challenges for schools across the country, including our LPS classrooms. In addition to constant absences for quarantining, one of our LPS schools was hit hard by Hurricane Ida in the fall which closed school for two weeks, 3 LPS schools were forced to return to virtual learning for a week because there weren’t enough bus drivers to transport students, and many LPS teachers are picking up additional workloads to make up for staff shortages. Despite countless challenges, our LPS teachers are continuing to support their students’ STEM education beyond their curriculum by facilitating connections between our over 850 pre-scientists and their STEM pen pals. This year, 2022, we anticipate our STEM pen pals and pre-scientists will exchange about 3,000 more letters for our 100 letter opening parties remaining this year. This summer we plan to grow our program connecting even more STEM professionals with pre-scientists next school year.