STRONG ISLAND: A native of Long Island, N.Y., Amanda Culp, 20, is the director of Penn InnoWorks, the University’s chapter of the national science and engineering initiative for middle-school students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
KIDS INCORPORATED: Culp, a junior Chemical Engineering/Economics major, says she was attracted to Penn InnoWorks because she enjoys working with kids and teaching about science and engineering. She has been involved with the program since her freshman year.
MIDDLE GROUND: Each summer, a week before New Student Orientation, Penn InnoWorks invites about 40 middle school students to campus for a week of science and engineering activities.
THE HELP(ERS): Twenty to 30 Penn students mentor the middle schoolers, providing learning objectives and making sure they are having fun and learning at the same time.
All 2 GETHER NOW: Culp says students with a wide range of academic interests volunteer as InnoWorks mentors, including students from the College, Nursing and Wharton.
KID ROCKET: This past summer’s InnoWorks theme was “Dare to Discover.” One of the activities, Culp says, was building bottle rockets, “which the kids absolutely loved.”
HORATIO CAINE: Next summer’s theme is “Making Sense of the Senses.” Culp says she’s hoping to do “some sort of ‘CSI’ kind of thing because I think that would be really cool for the kids.”
HELLO AGAIN: “I like when I see students come back,” Culp says. “One of the students that I mentored came back this year and gave me the biggest hug in the world and said how much fun she’s had both summers and how she’s super excited about science and engineering, which is good.”
GOOD SAMARITAN: Culp has also served on the executive board for Habitat for Humanity. She’s worked as an orientation peer advisor and mentor for freshmen at Penn, and she’s volunteered at the Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia.
DO UNTO OTHERS: “I actually do generally enjoy helping people and making a difference, as cliché as that sounds,” Culp says. “I guess it’s nice to do something for someone else.”
STRAIGHT FLUSH: When not studying chemical engineering or lending a hand, Culp unwinds by bowling and playing poker. “My mom would like to say I’m better at poker, and my dad would like to say I’m better at bowling,” she says.
FREE FOR ALL: Penn InnoWorks is funded solely on donations and the middle school students do not pay to participate. To volunteer or support the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published on November 17, 2011