A critical part of every COSI On Wheels program is the adult volunteers (ages 16 and up) who help with hands-on sessions. Volunteers are important to every COSI On Wheels program to help provide a quality hands-on experience for students.
No experience necessary!
Many people think they must be an expert in science to lead a COSI activity. Make it clear that their main job is to have FUN! It is meant to be a learning experience for all: students, teachers, and volunteers. The COSI educator is there to help them understand the science. If they have fun, the students will too!
Be flexible in your scheduling.
Scheduling volunteers for the entire day may be difficult. Working only in the morning or afternoon is perfectly fine. All volunteers must attend the volunteer orientation. This could be accomplished by having the orientation the previous evening after the COSI educator has set up the program.
If your school has the program for more than one day, a volunteer orientation each day is recommended. All volunteers should attend one of the assemblies in order to get an overview of the program's content and science concepts.
Always recruit more volunteers than you need.
Fifteen adult volunteers are needed per hands-on session. Most shows can utilize eighteen to twenty volunteers. Also, there are inevitably last minute emergencies that prevent people from volunteering, so schedule a few extra volunteers.
Establish a recruiting "time table."
The best time to begin your search for volunteers is four weeks prior to COSI's visit. Phone calls work better than notes sent home with the students. The volunteer letter included in the packet should be sent to the adults as a reminder of the day's commitment. Also, a phone call the night before to confirm the schedule helps to avoid last minute challenges on the day of the program.
Let them know they are appreciated.
The COSI On Wheels program could not happen if it were not for those fabulous volunteers. The volunteers are donating their time and a great deal of effort. While the COSI educator will have the students thank them for their hard work, something more tangible is often a nice gesture. Providing coffee in the morning or ordering out for lunch are great ways to say thank you for making the day a success. Many schools have tried potluck lunches with great results.
Grandparents: Usually retired and at home, and what grandparent is going to say "no" to their grandchild?
Local Universities: Education, science students, and even professors often like the break in routine. These college students would be receiving practical field experience in education. Also, sororities and fraternities do service projects.
Local Service Groups:There are many groups such as Kiwanis, the American Legion, and church groups that give a certain amount of volunteer hours each year.
High School Honor Students: Science clubs, Key clubs, honor societies, etc., in your local high schools are another resource. Be sure to choose responsible students - they will be role models for your students all day (volunteers must be at least 16 years old).
Active Older Adult Organizations:Check with your local YMCA or community center. Also, many larger corporations have volunteer programs that involve employees in the local communities.
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