By Dr. Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe
We launched the new Junior Animal Scientist Program in October of 2012, and although we knew there was a need, we really didn’t know if there would be a response. We worked hard to generate high quality content, which was harder than you might guess. To generate content for elementary and middle school, it is necessary to redesign the material and present scientific content in a totally different manner. Thankfully we have awesome experts in elementary education on speed dial. After creating content and launching the program, the next step is a numbers game. Suddenly, the success and failure of a program seems to be dependent on numbers! Our goal for 2012 was 500 Junior Animal Scientists, and we have 750. The second goal was that people renew. We already have a 90% renewal rate, so we have more than exceeded our goal. And now we are already thinking about our 2013/2014 goals.
Obsessing about numbers as Junior Animal Science turns 1, I had temporarily stopped thinking about how to evaluate content and the impact of the content, until last week. My husband was traveling for a week, and of course we had some random thing break in the house. Between school and swim practice, I was dragging my 5-year old daughter through Home Depot. As we were racing up and down the aisles, Malia was prattling on about something and I was concentrating more on reading the aisle signs than on our conversation, when suddenly I caught, “Mommy, dolphins have hair. They are mammals.” I looked at her and thought, wow, they must finally be doing some science in first grade. So I asked, “Malia, did Mrs. Hilge teach you that.” Malia looked at me like I had lost my mind and said, “No, Mommy! Mrs. Hilge said you were teaching us that in our magazine”. Well, my kid is cute, and I am thrilled that she loves animals and science, but she truly made my day by reminding me that her whole class are Junior Animal Scientists, and obviously the kids use the magazine and actually learn from it. She proceeded to tell me about different animals and their heart rates and finished it off by showing me how to take my pulse, just as described in the magazine.
Our metrics are good, but the best endorsement I could hope from comes from the fact that Mrs. Hilge at Southeast Fountain Central uses the Junior Animal Science Magazine to teach and that the kids like it and learn from it!