Powered by Volunteers

Lately, I have been tallying our numbers to see what we did over the year and it has been exciting to see the graphs.
It has also been awe-inspiring. Awe-inspiring to see so many people can come together to spend hours of thought, time, effort and sweat for the good of someone in need. I have heard many end-of-the-year speeches by CEO’s and it usually sounds very cliched when they say that they alone couldn’t have done so much, etc etc. I am now on the other side and want to say the same cliched things. But I also want to stress how genuine my gratitude, humility and hope is.
Operationally, the program runs only because of our volunteers: hundreds of volunteering engineers who develop and teach the curricula, bilingual speakers who translate all our materials (some of whom have never even met us like Avril Soto and Yvette Johnson), volunteering researchers (who help us evaluate our impact like Robyn Hightower) and teachers and school administrators who volunteer their time to provide the best education for their students.
But I feel the most important thing volunteers bring to Iridescent is their belief in us. It is not easy to take on the problem of inspiring inner-city children to aim to be engineers . It is not easy to develop an innovative program that addresses a need in the community. Its even harder to run such a program on little or no money. That is when every kind word and statement of support becomes solid fuel boosting our engines. Every time we hit a wall (when we get a letter of rejection from a funding agency or talk to people with little imagination and risk-taking abilities) , some volunteer comes along and says how neat our program is and that they would like to support it with their time and effort. We would have crumpled up and died long time ago if it wasn’t for every such individual volunteer.

And so we continue – powerful and sustained.

Thank you for believing in us.

Thank you SolidWorks and Volunteers!

There have been a few momentous events in Iridescent’s history. June 6th was one of these. Thanks to one dedicated volunteer, Srikant, we got together 20 (very brave) volunteers (10 from SolidWorks) to concurrently conduct hands-on science lessons for an hour for 240, 4th and 5th grade students.
This event was part of a bigger corporate social responsibility event conducted by our partner, L.A Works.
We conducted a brisk, training session two days before (at SolidWorks) , during which volunteers were introduced to Iridescent’s misson, given a demo lesson and requested to choose from some prepared lessons. The topics were Biomechanics, Aeronautics, Renewable Energy, Heat Transfer and Sound.

The two goals were i) to get children excited about science and ii) to provide a reference point for engineers interested in teaching science to children. Many times we get so used to our colleagues’ level of understanding that we forget how foreign our language may sound to a 4th grader. Through this relatively low-commitment approach, volunteers could quickly get a sense for what teaching in an urban classroom was like and whether they would like to participate in our longer, more intense courses.

The sessions achieved the above goals. The children enjoyed interacting with fresh, new people from different walks of life and of course, doing the actual activities. The volunteers quickly realized how challenging teaching can be, how dynamic the classroom environment is and how rewarding it is to inspire young minds.

This model works. On one side we have a huge pool of intelligent, highly qualified professionals and on the other we have an equally huge pool of children in need of mentorship and guidance.
You have the ability to inspire a child and change her life; to show how hard work, critical thinking, perseverance, curiosity and a love of learning are the ingredients for success.