Amgen Rhode Island partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State to launch the first site-based mentoring program in Rhode Island. The program, called Beyond School Walls, brought 20 sixth graders from a local elementary school to Amgen for a 15-week program. Each of the 20 students was paired with a volunteer Amgen staff member, meeting every other Wednesday from November through June for one-to-one mentoring.
During the first 12 sessions, students and mentors participated in a hands-on science learning activity, such as extracting DNA from fruit, making a model of how the immune system works or measuring resting and active heart rates. During the last 20-30 minutes of each session students and mentors got to know each other through playing games or talking. For the last few sessions, students chose a science experiment to do with their mentor and prepared a poster board for presentation. The program culminated with an event showcasing the students self-designed science experiments to parents, community members and Amgen staff.
“I used to be a science teacher, so it was fun. The student’s energy and enthusiasm made me more motivated and energized me,” said Kathleen, who participated as a mentor. “My ‘little’ is brilliant. The program is a way for her to channel her creativity and utilize scientific thinking skills.”
This school year Amgen Rhode Island is continuing the program. Last year’s students will stick with their mentors (if possible) in a new seventh grade program, and ten new sixth graders will be paired with Amgen volunteers for the sixth grade science mentoring. “It’s really caught on as one of the more successful staff opportunities,” says Jennifer, who helped organize the program. “The success of it is really the staff member’s engagement and commitment to the program.”