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At the young age of five I first met my science club teacher, Leslie. She came into my life through an after-school science program for young children where I developed my interest in science. Now, eight years later, I am still learning from her and occasionally helping her teach as a Junior Instructor, the highest achievement in her science club. Leslie has motivated me with her passion for science, her dedication to teaching, and her leadership.

To keep up with new discoveries, Leslie takes college classes, attends lectures, and reads. She is enthusiastic and creative in her teaching style, and easily engages her students. Like her, I want to be a lifelong learner and share what I learn. She has mentored me as an instructor of younger students and I aspire to convey ideas as well as she does. As a leader, Leslie has developed connections for the club with science departments at UC Berkeley and with NASA Ames. This has given me the opportunity to learn about atoms, quantum mechanics, and physics from Nuclear Engineering and Electrical Engineering grad students at Berkeley. AT NASA Ames, we have learned about rocketry, met astronauts, and built and launched rockets.

Leslie has been instrumental in my journey to learn about science. I am inspired by her commitment to help her students grow. Her curriculum even includes an annual meeting with an etiquette instructor so that students can brush up on their manners and know how to conduct themselves when meeting important scientists. Leslie had a vision for a science club for kids and was able to make that come alive and expand it. It took determination and hard work on her part, and still does, and I have learned valuable life lessons from her example.

ATOM Science Club Student

Leslie has a unique approach to teaching that involves conceptualizing fundamental principles of physics and chemistry in a way that helps students learn about the world around them. I have never seen a more successful approach to science education. Her style teaches kids not to be afraid of learning in general and of science in particular. As long as they are with her, their minds are truly open and they are certainly on an adventure.

Larry Miller
U.S. Geological Survey

Leslie holds an after school program with the kids where they get to learn from her, go on field trips and have visitors teach them new things. Our student section both provides visitors to go out to the after school program and teach the kids new things AND we hold an annual ATOMS Day at UC Berkeley where the kids sign up to come visit our NE department. As the coordinator in 2010 and advisor in 2011 I would say that this event is AMAZING to see all these young minds eager to give up a Sunday to actively learn. I'm so sad with our current education system in this country that getting a chance to see children that want to learn get a chance to, is the most rewarding experience of my 4 years of undergraduate work at UC Berkeley. They are the future. They deserve our time.

Joseph Curtis
Nuclear Engineering Student, UC Berkeley

Dear Leslie:

Hello! James and I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. The ATOM Science Club you have created has been a phenomenal experience for our children. Our son Ben has gained such a love of science as he heads into high school. Our younger son Tim has been with you for three years now, and the ATOM Science Club is a highlight of every week. He rushes to wear his periodic table t-shirt on club day, watches science channel every chance he can get, and begs to get out the telescope to look at the stars and planets.. He so looks forward to the amazing field trips you plan and organize for the children. For example, Tim loved the trip to UC Berkeley, one of the world's leading science institutions, where you worked with a group of graduate students to teach the kids about dark matter. Knowing how important it is to have kids actively engaged, you had the kids demonstrate the theory of dark matter by acting out in front of the lecture hall what may have happened in the universe. Then the kids actually saw the latest ongoing experiments on dark matter. Recently, the kids went to the electrical engineering department there, and Tim (who is 9 years old) loved meeting with the college students and talking about the mysteries of the universe and life.

Leslie, you are an amazing teacher. Your love of science, love of children and joy of life is evident in all that you do. You not only engage the children and ignite their curiosity, but you also help them draw from deep within themselves and feel confident and excited that they can explore and understand the universe. They know their ideas and questions matter!

What you have created in the ATOM Science Club and your ongoing gift to the children is extraordinary. We cannot thank you enough.

With great appreciation,
Page Mailliard and James Isaacs

ATOM Science Club
Phone (650) 271-2035
E-mail: atomscienceclub(at)yahoo.com

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