The Science Fair is completed. I put in around 50 hours this semester in Dr. Loftus' biology classes. This feels like a good stopping point. It was an experience.
Every one of my visits was pretty similar. I would walk around field questions, and ask a few in attempts to keep the students on task. Toward the end of the class period, I would work with a student or two who had fallen behind on assignments.
The assignments were easy for them. Nitrogen cycles, food webs and even the evolution of antibiotic resistance are concepts they can grasp rapidly. We could bust through those assignments and get the kid caught up pretty quickly.
I had the advantage of only seeing them once a week, and I never had to hand out detentions or grade reductions. However, I'm convinced that the usual angry lectures and punishments are counterproductive for motivating a child. From my limited, outside perspective, it seems that even at the high school level students benefit from having someone say, "Let's get it done now. Let's try to get an A." That little bit of initiative seemed to be helpful.
By far, the most significant impression that I will take away from my volunteer experience this semester is from observing the selflessness of the teachers and the mammoth effort that they put into their work each day for such little recognition and reward.