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MIT Students Skip Beaches at Spring Break, Head South for Teaching and Public Service

Cambridge, MA--Twenty-five students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are skipping the traditional college student pilgrimage to Southern beaches and instead will be spending their Spring Break teaching in the urban Washington, D.C. schools. The students have organized a one-week tour of D.C. elementary and junior high schools, from March 23-30, in conjunction with the national Teach for America program.

The students will teach in over 40 classrooms, hosted by teachers from Teach for America, the national corps of recent graduates who teach for two years in under-resourced schools. Each team of two student teachers has developed several science and math lessons for their classrooms ranging from the biosystems of fish to the physics of toys in space. In the evenings the MIT students will participate in different educational programs including talks from community organizers and reflections on the work they did that day.

Some of the students will be getting academic credit for their participation in the program under the political science course "Community Service: Experience and Reflection." Those students will be doing additional reading, reflection papers, and will keep a journal of their experiences.

The project developed when MIT senior Anthony Ives met up with the Teach for America group at a Nashville conference organized by Break Away, which acts as a resource for alternative breaks for college students. Ives, an Urban Studies and Planning major, had been involved in a number of teaching-related volunteer activities and was looking for a major project to run himself. He'd been inspired by a leadership conference last summer run by LeaderShape that was attended by 60 MIT students.

"When I got back to campus, I e-mailed a few friends about the idea of teaching on spring break. My friends passed the message to their friends and next thing I knew, I had 40 responses," said Ives, who is coordinating the teaching week.

MIT's Public Service Center, which coordinates campus-related volunteer activities, is picking up the cost of the student's transportation, and while in D.C., most of the students will stay with MIT alumni who volunteered their homes. "We had a great response when we sought lodging through the D.C. alumni club newsletter," said Ives.

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