By Elissa Nebitt, director of Community Relations for Xerox

Have you ever wished for an automatic laundry folder?  What if you could turn your kids’ mattress into a life-size nightlight?  Need help reseeding your lawn this summer with the help of the Super Seeder 3000?

These were three of many inventions on display at Science Challenge Day, an end of year celebration and competition for students of The Xerox Science Consultant Program. The event also hosted an engineering structures contest where students tested their knowledge and skill to create the strongest structure out of straws and paperclips.

The Xerox Science Consultant Program (XSCP) is a partnership with the Rochester City and Webster School Districts. It places Xerox people in third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms to teach hands-on science lessons. This year marks 49 years of partnership.

The program began in September of 1968 as a way to engage and interest inner city students — and men and women of color — to follow an education and career path in science. The program was a natural fit with Xerox’s budding commitment to diversity in engineering, which was led by our founder, Joe Wilson.

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The Xerox Foundation is the hand that gives something back to the communities from which we draw our employees, our customers, and our freedom to conduct business.

Matt Ellis, Dave Coleman

Matt Ellis (L) and fellow Science Consultant Dave Coleman.

The success of the program truly relies on the work and commitment of Xerox people —t he science consultants who generously donate their time and talents to teach science and engineering concepts.

Matt Ellis, a Field Support Quality Manager, has been with Xerox for 29 years and a volunteer science consultant for 28 of them. Matt notes that he and his fellow consultants not only teach science, but they are also role models. “The schools that I volunteer for are inner city; it (XSCP) exposes kids to a male that they can a relate to.”

What’s more is when students understand the real life application of what they are learning.  Ellis adds, “I can remember when we did a unit about the three states of matter. A student finally realized why the mirror is always wet after a shower. He got the connection that steam is water in the form of a gas and it turns back into liquid once it hits the mirror. The excitement on his face was priceless.  And, I felt I accomplished something!”

Amy Porter, a chemical engineer in the Consumables Development and Manufacturing Group and first-year consultant underscores the value of giving back. “I volunteered at local schools during college. I was very excited to see that Xerox offered a way for its employees to serve their local community.”

Amy Porter

Amy Porter (R) with her engineering structures teams from School #20.

Amy points out that programs like XSCP are invaluable for both the volunteers and the schools that participate in them. It not only ignites interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it helps build a pipeline of future employees who will fill the ever-growing demand for these types of jobs.

“I believe Xerox and its employees are obligated to serve the community, and our Science Consultant program is a wonderful way to do so.”

I couldn’t have said it better, Amy.  If you live and work in the Monroe County, (N.Y.) area and wish to get involved, send an email to Elissa.Nesbitt@Xerox.com

For the 2016-2017 school year, The Xerox Science Consultant Program served 40 classrooms and about 1,000 Rochester City School students.  Xerox donated approximately 3,500 hours of science instruction to the schools, thanks to the more than 80 Xerox volunteers.