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Photo of EPIC class workshop.

Cal State L.A. students motivate schoolchildren thru service-learning project

Minion challenge, train motivation, other hands-on activities offer college lessons

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can,” chimed a group of Cal State L.A. students as they marched into a classroom of second graders in Anton Elementary School in Los Angeles to help inspire them to learn and gain good study skills.

The eight Cal State L.A. students, who presented a workshop called “All Aboard the Believe Train,” were dressed up as cabooses as part of a fun learning activity developed based on the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could.

This workshop was one of 21 developmental and pre-college activities presented to kindergarteners through 6th graders last fall as part of the service learning project for the “Introduction to Higher Education” course (HHS 101) at Cal State L.A.

Picture of EPIC class workshop.
Picture of EPIC class workshop.

The course is designed to provide freshmen an understanding and appreciation for higher education and the role it plays in individual accomplishment and achievement.

“The community service component helps students develop thinking strategies applicable to life-long problem-solving in academic, social and personal life,” said Dr. Rosa Zapata, the course instructor.

Vincent Rich, who was one of the students who coordinated the “What Motivates You?” session, enjoyed the opportunity to engage in the local community and to be seen as a role model for the young students. He shared that it was “cool” interacting with the children, and just observing how responsive they were to the presentations.

“We clipped out pictures from magazines, such as food, music, toys, celebrities and books, and the children selected and pasted clippings onto cereal boxes that motivated them,” said Rich, a kinesiology major. “Our goal was to teach them to work hard to become successful in life.”

Another group created an activity for 4th graders to show them that all difficulties in life can be overcome, once you set your mind to it.

To relay that message, Reyna Delgado and her team decided on the theme of “Challenge Yourself,” and created interactive games using cardboard boxes painted as minion characters from the Despicable Me movie.

“The children really enjoyed the games and really connected with the minions,” said Delgado, who plans to pursue a career in forensic anthropology. “It was awesome working together with my team, and it was a good learning experience for me too!”

Other stimulating, hands-on activities were titled “Super Students,” “Who’s Your Dory?,” “The Tree of Motivation,” “Never Give Up Piggy,” “Success Carnival,” “Determinators,” “Guess Who?,” “The Road of Success,” “Determined Birds,” “Shredded Eagles,” “What is Responsibility?,” “HAND-ling Leadership,” “Aiming for Success,” and “Dream Big, Work Hard.”

These final assignments, coordinated in collaboration with the University’s Educational Participation in Communities (EPIC) program, involved more than 125 CSULA freshmen and served more than 475 elementary schoolchildren.

Victoria Mosqueda, interim EPIC director, indicated that the first-quarter freshmen did a great job implementing educational, creative and engaging presentations for the elementary school children and sharing thoughtful messages about the importance of college and student success.

“Even though the intention was to help the children realize their potential, the freshman students ultimately realized their own potential and appreciated us helping them meet their educational goals,” she said.

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Last Update: 01/29/2014