Jeff Coates is our March 2016 Volunteer of the Month. He has helped us in a variety of ways including in our Robot Lab and our FIRST LEGO League Tournament. While volunteering as an Explainer in Toytopia, he even took some his own tools and tightened the grip of the gears on our gear wall. He also supports corporate volunteering and encourages all volunteers to explore “Dollars for Doers” programs at their employers. Read in Jeff’s own words how his lifelong passion for science inspired him to volunteer and why he thinks MiSci matters so much:
I started volunteering at the Michigan Science Center during summer of 2015 in the Robot Lab as part of the team member volunteer efforts at Quicken Loans. It was very rewarding to see kids get the concept of creating a program by adding individual steps for the robot to perform. I’m hoping some of them will continue their interest in robots and software engineering throughout their school years.
I have also volunteered during the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Tournament and a number of times in the Toytopia exhibit. I really enjoy the time to interact with the kids and encourage their interest in the STEM subjects by showing real world applications.
My passion for science was always about finding out how things worked. I grew up with the NASA Apollo space program and followed the moon missions in detail. My bedroom had a poster of the inside of an Apollo command module mounted on the ceiling above my bed. I could look up and imagine that I was really inside the capsule with all of those switches and gauges. I’ve been following NASA missions closely ever since.
During my early teens, I did many types of experiments with electricity and chemistry at home and school. One of the funniest was when I mixed a whole box of baking soda with a quart of vinegar. Fortunately, the mess from that reaction was outside of the house.
My goal as a volunteer is to encourage the natural curiosity that kids have and direct it towards science.