Y'all Need Science! How one UF Online graduate connects with kids

If you click through kids’ science videos on YouTube, you'll find Yesenia Arroyo standing in front of her work station, a pegboard full of hanging tools and her laptop perched on a stand. On her channel, "Y'all Need Science!" she emotes and enthuses, making the science she's teaching fun and easy to understand for kids. 

Arroyo is graduating this weekend with her bachelor's degree in geology. As a UF Online student who works full time, commencement will be one of the very first times she gets to see UF's campus. She is one of the nearly 4,000 students who will receive their degrees during the Fall 2021 commencement weekend on Dec. 17 and 18 in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. 

"UF Online gave me the flexibility I needed to be able to still earn a science degree, but be able to do it within the comfort of my schedule," she said. 

Arroyo currently works at the Melrose Center at the Orlando Public Library, guiding kids through live demonstrations of different experiments. She's a science educator, a science communicator, and the first in her family to graduate from college. 

The easy, kid-friendly communication comes naturally to her. And she often keeps her audience interested with two simple words: But why?

"I think with kids, if you know something well, you can explain it to someone that small and because of how they see things, they'll ask you, ‘but why?’ until you get to the simplest part of a matter."

Exposure to science matters to Arroyo and has shaped her path to and through UF. In the seventh grade after her class learned in-depth about the planetary system, she began saying she wanted to be an astronaut. 

"I've always been interested in where we came from," Arroyo said.

Then again in the 10th grade when her class was in a deep discussion about chemistry, she remembers thinking about how the orbital configurations of electrons are strikingly similar to configurations of the solar system.

Before attending UF, Arroyo interned at NASA for more than two years, assisting with safety reviews for various space missions.That curiosity that drove her to learn in the first place was rooted in learning the intricacies of the world around us at a young age.  

"Being able to have this degree and communicate what I know, I know I can navigate so many more things just because of the possibility of learning more," she said. 

Emily Cardinali December 17, 2021