In the fall of 1996, Charles Phillips and his wife Ann Harmon Phillips were asked by the South Greenville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association to chair a new Math and Science PTA Committee to address an unmet need. The goal of this committee was to promote elementary math and science participation in new ways.
This urban K-5 elementary school had a population of less than 700 students, 70% minority, 54% eligible for free or reduced lunch and 13% exceptional students, of which 3% were academically gifted. The school has been identified as lagging in technology.
To provide math and science enrichment, the Young Einstein Club was born, with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips as the founders. The Young Einstein Club has a page in the school's newsletter, with questions for K-2 and 3-5 grade categories, with the answers supplied in code. This newsletter went home with every child in the school. Each child who answered the questions and returned the page to school was an automatic member of the Young Einstein Club. The Young Einstein Club became the vehicle for directing innovative and cutting-edge technology for math and science enrichment to students.
Mr. Phillips developed a network for scheduling teleconferences between students and science and math practitioners, utilizing the North Carolina Information Highway infrastructure. Pitt Community College provided the local site and North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics provided the Distance Learning Sessions.
Phillips also established a partnership with the Virtual Reality in Education Laboratory at East Carolina University's School of Education. Two Math/Science Pilot Projects were completed utilizing the latest technology on virtual reality software.
Phillips assisted with the computerized entry and registration of six Young Einstein Club members, who competed in the World Wide Web Page Design Competition. Both teams won First Place in the competition and their work was displayed globally on the Internet during the State Fair.
There has been no faculty advisor for the Young Einstein Club. Volunteers for each enrichment activity have been necessary. Some of these activities took place during school, while others were held after school and on weekends. Some were local, while others had an out-of-town component. Phillips has mobilized all of the resources.
The Young Einstein Club has continued for three years, despite changes in the school's administration and faculty.