This summer two Blossom Hill Fellows from the class of 2016, Erika Gillette and Desiree Halpern, continued their impactful work when they visited the Ritsona and Oynofyta refugee camps in Greece. Their work has provided Syrian, Kurdish and Afghan children ranging age from three to fifteen with access to new science kits.
These science kits engage the children in different activities that allow them to learn about a wide array of topics including primary colors, wind, heat, solids, liquids, solar energy and electricity.
For example, using "s'mores kits" the students built an 'oven' and baked s'mores inside. The thermometer inside displays how hot it gets as the chocolate and marshmallows melt, showing the phase change from solid to liquid.
Despite the language barrier, Erika and Desiree were able to communicate with students with the help of facilitators and volunteers, and more importantly by earning the children's trust using the universal language of science. Beyond the immediate tangible benefits of their work, there are many intangible benefits such as when the children are motivated to share with other members of their camp what they have learned helping to bring their divided community closer.
Erika and Desiree taught approximately 150 students across two camps. They gathered significant information on the understanding, emotions, and personal well-being of children through the observation of classes and one-on-one discussions.
Erika, who was at the camps in January, was delighted to learn how much those children enjoy the science classes. She recalls, “it was amazing to know that children actually remembered things like magnets, iron and colors. They remembered a lot of things that I taught them in January. They even remembered me even though they see so many other people coming in and out.”
Blossom Hill Foundation
Investing in peace through innovation.