Reflections on Developing Outreach Resources

Share This:



SPS Chapters on Outreach

Reflections on Developing Outreach Resources


Shannon Brindle, Physics Undergraduate, University of Mary Washington

Photo courtesy of Shannon Brindle.Physics has taught me two fascinating lessons: how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and why it’s not being wrong you should fear—it’s not learning why you are wrong.

Two years ago, a major shift in my educational goals—from psychology to physics/premed demanded that I quickly adjust. The lessons I learned about discomfort and fear during this period, coupled with the need for affordable, accessible STEM education in underserved communities, inspired me to lay the foundation for STEM Starter, Inc. A sustainable, affordable, grassroots nonprofit organization, STEM Starter is dedicated to promoting the use of everyday, rudimentary, and household objects as guides for STEM education. Each STEM Starter experiment reinforces use of the scientific method while encouraging critical thinking and demonstrating that there is no finish line in learning.

What began two years ago as a small service project has evolved into an online program that offers free STEM education resources. In September 2020 we launched our first book, STEM Starter: Charting a New Course, and since October our outreach activities have been made available to the residents of a local juvenile detention center. I expect to continue these efforts and plan to provide STEM Starter information and supplies to rural community centers and crisis shelters.

The development process has not been without its frustrations and obstacles. What I learned is that it’s important to employ the three P’s: patience, persistence, and planning. Patience: Things will often take longer than you imagine, particularly if you are a full-time student. Persistence: At times you will need more faith in yourself and your vision than everyone around you. Planning: Be realistic when planning both your time and finances. Keep these in mind as you reach out to others, and with inspiration and hard work, we physics students can make a lasting impact.

Learn more about STEM Starter at

More from this department

SPS Chapters on Outreach