Loraine Brown poses with students Emmie Robberson (L) and Shreyas Medikonda (R) and the newspaper tower they built.
Loraine Brown has positively impacted countless lives with her bright personality and exuberant love for science during her 30 years as an instructor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Odyssey Science Camp.
Brown retired from teaching at Whiteside Elementary in Belleville a handful of years ago. This year, she says it’s time to bid farewell to the camp in which she has happily invested her time and energy.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Brown said. “We’ve always tried to do exciting activities that keep kids interested and encouraged about science.”
For all 30 years, Brown has taught Odyssey 1 and 2, offering interactive instruction to children grades 2-4.
“We’ve been doing a lot of the same things all these years because they’re hands-on science activities,” Brown said. “They’re tried and true, and kids love them. Plus, they’re activities that classroom teachers don’t have the equipment to do. We try to supplement. No grades. No homework. Just a lot of fun science!”
Student after student can recall their camp days spent with Brown.
“She was always happy and excited about the projects we were doing,” recalled 12-year-old Katharine Peterson.
“She is incredibly sweet and caring,” said Katrina Agustin, former camper turned volunteer. “I remember her class was always super hands-on and fun.”
Brown has influenced entire families. Katie Robberson was once a camper in her class. Now, her son and daughter have enjoyed Brown as their camp instructor, too.
“I have a lot of fond memories of camp,” Robberson said. “I attended for several years in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. I remember launching rockets, which my son did with Loraine a few years ago. I remember dissecting an owl pellet and an earthworm. Loraine was kind, warm and fun.”
“She likes to teach us,” added Emmie, Robberson’s 6-year-old daughter who started camp this year.
Brown has also left an indelible mark on her fellow instructors. She is certain they will continue to help kids learn, grow and get excited about science.
“When I was a new teacher, I gravitated toward Loraine, because she taught instinctively,” said Vicki Eschman, who teaches alongside Brown. “What a free spirit! Even though she’s been doing this for 30 years, she still has the basics, and she can definitely do things off the cuff. She just loves to teach.”
Brown will always remember that for 30 years the rockets she’s helped students create have successfully launched.
“We’ve had some go a little crazy,” she laughed, “but they’ve all at least ignited and gone up!”
Those whose lives she’s been a part of will always remember Brown’s boundless energy, kind demeanor, and passion for discovery and exploration.
“I’m leaving while I am ahead, because it has been fantastic,” Brown said. “I love science!”
The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach comprises an independent group of researchers and educators, innovating ways to engage students and the public in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Within the SIUE Graduate School, the Center brings together research faculty, graduate students and practitioners to conduct education research. Center staff develop and teach hands-on STEM programming as well as online citizen science and astronomy initiatives. The Center contributes educational expertise to SIUE undergraduate classes and provides professional development for K-12 teachers. The Center boasts a significant library of equipment and resources, which are available for loan at no cost to campus and regional instructors. For more information, visit stemideas.org or contact STEM Center Director Sharon Locke at (618) 650-3065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.