ARMS Gets Young Students Into Sciences

Successful Afterschool Program Brings UW-Madison Scientists Together with Local Kids

by Amira Caire, age 15

     Developed in 1990 by Lyle Hill and Bob Heidman, the Adult Role Models in Science program, better known as ARMS, is a partnership between children and adults handled by the UW-Madison Institute for Biology Education. Their mission is to improve science education in elementary and middle schools through long-term community collaboration.
     The ARMS program offers a range of educational programs. Each program plays a different role in children’s science education. ARMS programming is available at these Madison schools: Frank Ellis, Emerson, Hawthorne, Lake View, Lincoln, Lowell, Mendota, and Glendale.
     After-School Science Clubs are the primary activity of the ARMS program. These clubs operate during after-school hours and children can work at their own pace. Science education involves testing, experimentation, exploration and asking questions. University and community members with strong skills in various science fields work alongside staff members from the schools. Participants are K-8 students. ARMS offers eight-week after-school science sessions each semester at elementary schools, middle schools, and local community centers.
     Family Science Events give parents a chance to get involved with their children’s science education. When parents are seen learning science and showing an interest, they become adult role models for their children. During these events, the children are referred to as “the experts.” It’s the students who present what they have learned to adults and peers. These hands-on presentations help families engage with the process of science.
     Volunteers play a critical role in achieving the ARMS mission.  They engage students in science projects. They also make student learning more relevant by connecting scientific ideas to their real-life applications in the community. ARMS Volunteers include UW-Madison students in the sciences, UW faculty and staff, and scientists from government, industry and business.
     The Engage Children in Science program allows graduate and undergraduate scientists at UW-Madison to demonstrate their enthusiasm and expertise to younger students. This course provides children and learners hands-on experiences, information, and chances for dialogue and reflective experiences.
We watched students at work recently during an after-school activity at Wright Middle School. Every child seemed to have a natural desire to actively explore, make connections and understand their world. We think providing a positive science experience during childhood is necessary and important. These experiences will prepare students for future learning.
Science is all about exploring and discovering and can be found everywhere. Adults can act as role models to support children’s explorations. Their job is to listen, observe, share interesting and relevant materials and deliver a positive message about the value of science.
     We applaud the excellent work of ARMS. It’s a common sense idea that brings adults and kids together in pursuit of knowledge.


Very interesting article. Nicely done, Amira. Hope you like Verona. We like having you here. – Jannie TylerVerona (2013-10-24 12:04)
social studies would be clesass like World Cultures or Politics and Economics. history would be things like US History.those are probably the most common examples in high schools. – Rajlaxmisocial studies would be clesass like World Cultures or Politics and Economics. history would be things like US History.those are probably the most common examples in high schools. (2014-12-06 06:58)