STEM for Kids' Club

Posted by Ealan Jiang on March 7, 2016 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (8661)

Over the last two weeks, our group mainly talked about the Zika virus, which is a tropical disease. We first started with the general question, "Is there anyone who knows anything about Zika?". To my surprise, children from both classes did know a few details about Zika. One child named Angel said, "It is a dangerous virus spread by mosquitoes. And pregnant women would be affected significantly". What Angel said is actually very true. Zika virus is introduced to people through mosquito bites. The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947, and has experienced outbreaks in Africa, Southeast Asia, etc. In 2014, the disease spread to Brazil, where the largest ever epidemic of Zika has occurred. Zika is currently spreading rapidly through the Western hemisphere. There are various symptoms of the disease, including fever, rash, joint pain, and more. And like Angel said, Zika poses a significant risk for pregnant women. If a mother is affected by Zika at any point during her pregnancy, then the baby can be born with an undersized brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We instructed the kids at the Canal District on how to protect themselves from mosquito bites, since there is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika. For example, if they are travelling to South America, they should be sure to prevent exposure to mosquito bites by wearing protective long-sleeve clothing.


Later, we explored Chinese Lunar New Year through short stories, videos, and drawings. The children were especially interested in the legendary Chinese Monster known as "Nian". "

STEM for Children in Canal District

Posted by Ealan Jiang on February 1, 2016 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (1043)


The last two weeks we talked mainly about an infectious disease, Ebola, to a class of 5th graders and another class of third and fourth graders. We first started with the most common disease, flu, asking them what flu is and how could we prevent flu in our daily lives. Later, we asked them "what is Ebola?" To my surprise, most of the fourth and fifth graders knew the basics about Ebola. Then we taught them that Ebola does not spread like colds or the flu because it does not float through the air. Ebola also doesn’t spread through food or water, like smoother viruses. Instead, Ebola spreads when someone touches the body fluids of a sick person. But we also assuaged their fear by reassuring them that Ebola is rare and does not spread easily. The most important thing they need to do, in order to prevent this type of infectious disease, is to wash their hands well and often.

For those classes we used different styles of teaching formats targeted to the different age groups. For the fifth graders, we spoke in front of the whole class asking them questions and demonstrating experiments. Worried that this way of teaching might cause some students to not pay attention, we changed our approach by introducing the concepts to groups of three to four children. This method turned out to make them stay focused. Yet, this two methods seemed not to be comparative because we applied them to different groups. We found there was a huge difference between two groups. Even though the fifth graders were one year older than the others, they knew much more than third and fourth graders. Fifth graders were really attentive and they understood what we were talking about. And the third and fourth graders knew little. In the future, we cannot speak the same way to both groups. We need to teach in a more fun way to the younger kids while providing more formal lessons to the fifth graders.

--Vicky Lin and Ealan Jiang

CiN's 2015 President, Sylan Yuan, Winner of the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

Posted by Caitlin on January 11, 2016 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (239)

CVNL’s annual Heart of Marin Awards honor outstanding Marin nonprofits and the committed individuals who serve them. It is the largest event of its kind — where more 800 people come together to show their appreciation for nominees and award-winners. One of the eight nomination categories is Youth Volunteer of the Year. Up to five exceptional youth are recognized and awarded $1,000 each for their work serving a Marin nonprofit, education or faith-based organization. Our club president, Sylan Yuan (Zilan Yuan), was the winner of the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award this year! She was recognized for her work in the Canal Area through our club. She also decided to donate the $1,000 gift from the award to our club. Congratulations, Sylan!

Friday volunteer 9/12

Posted by Ealan Jiang on October 26, 2014 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (223)

Today was our first volunteering session in San Rafael’s Canal District this semester. When we got there, we played a name game in the gym to get more familiar with one another. To my surprise, when I asked them “Is there anyone who was here last semester and remembers what we made together?” many people raised their hands. Some activities they mentioned were ones even I didn’t remember. During the game, I made a mistake. I called a little boy “Wiky” when actually his name is “Willy”. So after I called him that three times, he said, “I’m not Wilky. She’s Vicky. My name is Willy.” Lesson learned: names are important for us get along along well others. Later, we played mine craft, a game we played during our first visit here last semester. It's pretty exciting and all of our members participated. Later we taught the children how to design a 3D bracelet online. All of the children were amazed by the iPad. There was a little problem with the wifi so we could design the bracelets but couldn't order them. After we taught them how to design bracelets, we took all of their addresses so we could order their bracelets when we returned to school. In the last ten minutes we taught the children how to use basic apps like note, safari and educational games. I believe it was a great start to a productive semester!

--Ealan Jiang


Friday Volunteer May 09th

Posted by Carys Zhao on May 11, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (163)

On Friday, May 09th, 2014, we went to the Pickleweed Community Center to work with third and fourth graders. It was our second LEGO robot project but it was harder than the first since this one was shaped like a human instead of a mechanical car. We were greatly impressed by the children's enthusiasm and interest in making the robot. Though each group only made a part of the robot, they all build and tested their parts with great carefulness. The coordinators were really helpful in keeping the children quiet and well behaved. They also worked to make the children more curious and engaged in the project.


I had thought that the boys would be much more talented in building robots than girls and was a bit worried that the girls would not fully participate in the project. As it turned out, the girls showed equal passion and problem solving skills, building parts by themselves with only the instruction booklet. All of us, both children and volunteers, had a great time working together.

Since the robot is a bit difficult to assemble, we weren't able to finish the whole thing and show the children how it works. We will finish building the complete robot next week and we hope that the kids will like it.


Friday Volunteer April 25th

Posted by Doris on May 3, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (18)

Today we went to the Pickleweed Community Center, and taught 4th and 5th graders to build a robot that can move. Today's group was the older age group. First we divided the students into groups of three, and divided up the tasks. In our group, two of the children worked on the wheels, and the other one worked on the wings. Most the students wanted to build the elements by themselves, so we only helped them with the details. After they each built a part of the robot, we collected them, and put them together. We went to the gym ahead of them to test the robot, having already designed a path for them to race with. Unfortunately, the robot kept shutting down after running for only a few minutes. Our solution to the problem was that we would walk with the robot, so that the controller and the robot could always be connected. Then the students came into the gym and Vicky showed them how to use the controller. Because the robot still frequently shut down by itself, only one group could finish the path. After that we decided to play games with the students. This week I felt that the students were much more active. This was probably either because they have become familiar with us or because they really liked building their own robot. Either way, we really had a fun time.


Tuesday Volunteer April/08/2014

Posted by Linda Li on April 19, 2014 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On April 8, 2014, I went to Canal District with three other volunteers to help the kids there with math and science. I worked with a very smart girl named Emy (fictional). I taught her how to solve problems by using equations. It was very hard for her to understand at first. However, after doing several practice problems, she started doing well. In the end, she could finish her homework correctly without asking me for help. After her homework, we went over some multiplication flashcards which she was very good at. She could give the correct answers right after she saw the questions. It was fun to work with the kids and help them with their academics. I enjoyed my time there.


Apr.4th Friday Volunteering

Posted by CherylYM on April 10, 2014 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (243)


Today was the first day of the LEGO robot project. Everyone was so excited about it as it was many people's (including volunteers) first time doing robotics. I remember when we first announced that we would be working with LEGO the kids just went nuts! We divided the whole project into four sections each led by two to three volunteers and we practiced running the activity on our own in club meetings before the actual volunteering. We recorded the time it took for us to complete the robot, tested it and then broke it down to double check that no pieces were missing.

On Friday, there were two to three kids in each group. The group that worked with Ealan and I was doing working very slowly so we learned that we had to be patient and give lots of direction. We successfully built the robot, but one thing went wrong. It was not working very well, and we presumed that there might jake been something wrong with the batteries. Unfortunately, not everyone got to play around with the robot but we promised them that next time, everyone would have the opportunity to try it out. As usual, we ended our day with several fun games. It was a really enjoyable day and we look forward to working on the same project next time.


Cheryl Yuan


Related pictures:

New Lego Set for Volunteer Projects

Posted by Duoduo (Jacqueline) Liang on April 9, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (385)


With the efforts of our January bakesale and other fundraising events, Children In Need Club was able to purchase two new "Lego Mindstorms EV3" sets. Before the purchase, we reviewed a lot of information and finally chose this one because of its great education potential.


The Lego website describes this saying it "Ignites student engagement and energise learning through real-life problem solving. Engage your students in Computer Science, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Boost learning curves and help all your students reach their curriculum targets. With LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 hands-on, minds-on approach the only challenge you’ll have is getting your students to leave the classroom!" (from


These Lego sets enable us to enhance our STEM projects as well as provide opportunities for our members who are already involved in robotics to show their talent and teach children about robotics. Before we started using the Lego sets, our Media Coordinator Margaret Xu and project leader Ivy Cheng made lots of plans to integrate these into our teaching strategies. Our members also had meetings to distribute their duties and develop fun new ways to teach.

Last Friday (4/4/14), we started to use the robots and children seemed to really like it!


Volunteer reports will be posted soon. Stay tuned!

San Domenico School Children In Need Club Tutoring Program

Posted by Sasha Nakae on March 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (363)

San Domenico School Children In Need Club Tutoring Program

​Starting this semester, Children in Need Club members have been visiting the Pickleweed Community Center and Canal Alliance Organization in the Canal District of San Rafael to help tutor elementary and middle schoolers. At first everyone started off, understandably, a little uncertain. New volunteers didn't know what the kids would be like or how they would do as tutors. However, as the program took off, San Domenico volunteers started walking in with a new confidence, feeling themselves becoming better and more patient teachers. Together, SD tutors help students on math problems and concepts on Tuesdays, and do fun science projects on Fridays. On these days they have enjoyed watching the improvement of their students over the course of one and/or multiple sessions. All volunteers agree that having such hard working and quick learning students helps a lot. Sylan Yuan proudly described her experience with a student writing "even though she is confused about the topic she doesn't get mad and stays focused".

The program is a lot more than just homework help, it's fun! The volunteers have introduced games to motivate the students and help them pay attention. Also, in the program, volunteers have made friends with their students because they always seem to make people smile and laugh. Ivy Liang recounted getting to know one girl when "she shared some of her stories with me and asked me about my school". The most important consensus about the program is that it has a mutual benefit for both tutors and students. Ada Wang agrees, writing "after today's tutoring, we all made progress in becoming better tutors. I have become more patient than before; and I believe that for those of us whose native language is not English, the program helps us make great progress in improving our English skills, since we are working with local students". We at the Children in Need Club are proud of our members for helping to educate the next generation as we look forward to the program's continuation and growth.

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