Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

Giving Back

AARP Foundation

Help AARP Foundation win back opportunity for struggling Americans age 50 and over. Eighty-seven cents of every dollar spent goes directly to life-changing programs and services. Do

MOST POPULAR

Viewed

6 Volunteers Who Make a Big Difference and How You Can, Too

Easy ways to find opportunities and make contacts

Tony Helies — Inspire a Middle Schooler

Nothing excites Tony Helies more than watching sixth and seventh graders ooh and aah over the solar system. Helies, 66, a former Apollo moon-project engineer who spent most of his profession in a networking-software business, volunteers about five hours per week teaching afterschool astronomy in Boston-area middle schools.

But not just any middle schools: Helies heads to those where the previous year most of the minority students underperformed on the science section of the state's standardized tests.

His mission: to get those students so excited about learning that they consider a career in astronomy. Armed with space photographs, he assigns them irresistibly fun tasks — such as making pinhole cameras to learn which is bigger, the sun or the moon, or doing experiments to see how fast a moon orbits around its planet.

Then, never forgetting how his single-parent mom pushed him to excel, Helies introduces his charges to some of the world's top astrophysics professors — right in the lecture halls of local universities. Rather than sit for lectures, the kids get to present to the professors, then engage in enthusiastic debate.

"One seventh-grade girl was so painfully shy that for a long time she hardly opened her mouth in class," Helies recalls. "But she learned her material, and when it was her turn, she gave this great pitch about Pluto."

A boy who was forever being sent to detention for behavior problems got so hooked on the experience that he penned a note to Helies, pledging to do better in school: "I will give 110 percent.… Keep making astronomy fun. Peace Out."

Helies says this is the kind of affirmation that keeps him coming back. "How many times can you bring [a note] like that home to show your wife?" he asks.

How it works. Serve up the low-down on finance, gardening, rocket science — whatever your expertise may be — and expose disadvantaged students to career possibilities.
Time it takes.
An afternoon of training, followed by classes that meet for 90 minutes a week for 10 weeks.
Contact.
Go to Citizen Schools online or call 617-695-2300.

Next: Nailing solutions. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discount & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Anna's Linens

Member save 10% every day at Anna's Linens and AnnasLinens.com.

Faanui Bay, as seen from beach on Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Members save up to $525 on vacations at AARP® Travel Center powered by Expedia®

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular price menu items at Papa John's

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Being Social

Community Volunteers

Honor Our Soldiers

Stop by to recognize those who have served our country, past and present. Discuss