Student Voices


Students speak out about their experience in the sciences at Grinnell College. These are YouTube videos created for the 2008 dedication of the Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center.

Quotes from GSP Pre-Orientation Participants

“The week of orientation provided by GSP was a lifesaver for a student from a small high school in a small town. Each of the activities was designed to provide a very real structure of support, by introducing participants to science faculty, upperclassmen in the sciences, and one another … . I would not be a scientist today if it were not for GSP.”

“Knowing other minorities and women who thought that physics was cool and math was interesting was a relief. Here was a community of my peers who liked some of the same things I did and came from similar backgrounds. Throughout the next four years many of those people became close friends and study partners. … Not only were there people available for you to talk to if you were having difficulties, there was also a team of mentors who believed that you could succeed. Despite the fact that you were a girl and the first person in your family to go to college, you could go to the best medical school in the country, or pursue a doctorate in physics, or in my case become a veterinarian. You need only look at the achievements of my peers in the [Grinnell] Science Project to see that this program is a huge success.”

“By the time the other students came to campus, I already knew the campus. And I got to meet all of the professors ahead of time. It was really great to meet 30 other people. And one of them is one of my closest friends right now. I knew 30 people and I didn’t feel so lost. It was a very smooth transition into college. They gave us a taste of what the workshop courses might be like, and it sounded interesting.”

“If I didn’t have the Grinnell Science Project, I would feel very lost. I wouldn’t know who I could go to to look for help. I know that if I need help I have people I can get it from. The Grinnell Science has TA’s that I can call for help if I need it. If I didn’t have the Grinnell Science Project, I would have had a harder time adjusting to work and the school here.”

“I do not remember the games and workshops we did, but I remember meeting the faculty, their advice, and, most effectively, the feeling that they expected that I could and would learn. I felt included in the informal science club.”

“The Grinnell Science Project laid the foundation for the exceptional mentoring I have received from the Grinnell Biology faculty. The relationships I have with my mentors from Grinnell have been instrumental to my success as a biologist. For example, when I was considering graduate studies, several faculty fielded questions about graduate school and read drafts of my admission statement. … In preparing for my first academic application and interview, these are the people I called to get insight into the process, answer practice questions, and read my application materials. As my career continues to develop, I know I can rely upon their advice and encouragement.”

Quotes from Students of Workshop Classes and Science Alumni

“It works out better to work in groups than by yourself for the workshop, because maybe you don’t understand something and it helps to discuss with the other person exactly what you are doing and say, ‘Does this make sense to you? Do you understand what is going on?’ That helps a lot.”

Biology Workshop student

“I get a feel for how the real scientists did their research—feeling like a scientist and how they came up with their theories. I learn how to DO physics. We understand how to do something—not just mathematically solve problems.”

Workshop Physics student

“I like being able to think of the ideas in an interactive way, and being able to do hands-on stuff—because I actually understand it. Physics isn’t my ‘thing.’ I know that. But I’m beginning to really understand it — not just as formulas that I plug into an equation.”

Workshop Physics student

“I particularly appreciated the strong emphasis on inquiry-based education, as I have always learned best through hands-on work… Student/faculty mentored research played a big role in my decision to continue on to graduate-level work in science…I have since earned a doctorate at the California Institute of Technology... I am currently a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Biology alum 2002, NSF Graduate Research Fellow Honorable Mention

Quotes from Student Mentors

“I had to think of many different ways to explain a concept and not just the concept itself. It made me think more critically about why and not just the how.”

"I learned how to present material in different ways so that a variety of students can understand it, and I learned to be mindful of individual learning styles."

"Mentoring helped my public speaking skills immensely, and I continue to use those skills in my career."

"I definitely feel … more confident talking to others, especially in a teaching setting. I use this new confidence in everything I do … ."

"… I am planning on becoming a teacher or professor, a decision I would not have made if I had not mentored a class."

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