“Parents of the students thank us for volunteering, and as our bus drives away, we see tens of small hands wave us goodbye. To me, that’s the most rewarding thing to see after a long day’s work,” said Christian Trevino, student coordinator for UTSA’s new eRunners Program. The program was created during the fall semester and was implemented in January. Trevino explains that its purpose is to “mentor middle school students considered ‘at risk’ of not pursuing a higher education.”
The students will take part in seven activities this semester: two science experiments and five engineering projects.
“By the end of the semester, we will have done chemical experiments; built a compass; built a chair out of newspaper; and built bridges, catapults, trebuchets, and simple machines,” said Trevino.
Twenty middle school students and 40 UTSA student volunteers currently participate in the eRunners program. The volunteers visit the students every other Friday for about an hour. Students from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors are invited to volunteer in the program.
Freshman civil engineering major Feyi Osifuwa volunteers with eRunners. Osifuwa responded to the experience.
“It’s cool because we get to see little scientists and engineers in the making. I love volunteering with eRunners,” Osifuwa said. “They (the students) always add their own creative touch to them (the projects). Not only do you teach them, but you end up learning from them as well.”
eRunners is funded by a national non-profit organization called SRC.
“This program is modeled after a successful program created years ago at Syracuse University and funded by SRC,” Trevino said. SRC provides funding for transportation, snacks, t-shirts, activity supplies, and $1,200 to help the middle school enhance its science labs.