My decision to start an A.T.O.M. Science Club Alumni Group began in 2014 when I received a message from a parent:
I hope you remember your former student, Liam Berryman, from your very first Baywood science club. He certainly remembers you! He just graduated from high school with top honors, and will be going to U.C. Berkeley this fall to study either chemistry or chemical engineering. He credits you with igniting his passion for science and, in fact, wrote his main college application essay about you. I would love to send you a copy of that essay. Could you please email your snail-mail address to me?
Thanks so much for everything! You are truly a gifted teacher.
I was overwhelmed with emotion. I often wonder how former A.T.O.M. Science Club members are doing and what career choices they have made. The message above deeply touched me and encouraged me to create an alumni program so I can stay in touch with former science club members. (You can read Liam’s essay here.)
Further motivation for creating the group came two years later from another former student.
Hey Ms. Leslie,
It’s Cameron Kuo. I started Science Club back when you were teaching at Pacific Rim International School. Now I’m a high school senior. I have been reflecting on how much I have learned and how I learned it. And it kept coming back to: Ms. Leslie taught me that!
I’d just like to thank you for all the instructions you have given me, they still benefit me to this day.
In every one of my science classes, in high school, I was able to ace the class because I knew a majority of the material. In biology class everything seemed like review. In chemistry, your old model of candy protons, neutrons and electrons came to mind. And in physics class, when the teacher talked about smashing apart sub-atomic particles at SLAC I knew exactly what he was talking about. Little did he know that I had met THE Pief Panofsky.
I am still training in Karate at ISDI, under Sensei Todd Jones. The funny part is, after being one of your junior instructors, I am now helping teach karate as a karate junior instructor.
I would just like to thank you for making such an effort to teach science, to make it fun, and to teach how to teach. Turns out trying to run a class full of elementary age students is a lot harder than it looks. Thank you.
Finally, during the holiday season of 2017, a parent whose son had participated in A.T.O.M. Science Club from 2008 thru 2013 suggested having a reunion. I was happy to host the reunion for science club members and their families and very excited to hear how everyone was doing and what career choices they had made. The reunion on December 21, 2016 (see pictures below) was was such fun not only for me but for the science club members, who shared their current college experiences. I knew I had to make the alumni group a permanent part of A.T.O.M. Science Club.
The following year, after much planning and in collaboration with NASA, the first official A.T.O.M. Science Club Alumni Group was born! Our first meeting (see pictures below) took place on December 28, 2017 at NASA Ames Research Center, where I hosted lunch for NASA scientist Brian Day and alumni from several different science club years.
After introductions all around, I offered alumni an opportunity to participate in a current A.T.O.M. Science Club adventure related to NASA’s 2035 mission to Mars. You can read all the details here. During the meeting, Brian taught alumni about the tools NASA scientists are using to do their research so alumni can join in the current adventure at NASA.