Project Exploration is proud to highlight Angelina Jaimes, our STEM facilitator for the Sisters4Science program, at Orozco Elementary! Angelina has a Bachelors of science in biology with a psychology minor and a Masters degree in science education. She was kind enough to sit down with Program Coordinator Kiara Byrd to answer some questions about her time with Project Exploration:
- Thinking back to when you started at Project Exploration, tell us how you got involved and why you wanted to join our team?
The first time I heard about Project Exploration was through my school Northeastern Illinois University. My school has a student center for science engagement, and they connect students to various opportunities to enhance their science skills. I was in the mailing list, so I received an email that Project Exploration was looking for STEM facilitators. I did my research and searched Project Exploration; I read their mission and right after I was interested in Project Exploration immediately. Their mission led me to apply, then I received a phone call from the program director Syda for an interview and a couple days later I was hired. I was excited to join the team because of what Project Exploration does. As a Chicagoan, a former CPS student, and a female I was eager to promote science and change the face of science to the young generation. Nowadays, inner urban students are being judge upon and are not being offered programs that Project Exploration offers. Therefore, joining the team I was very thrilled to meet young girls in middle school that are interested in learning about science and mentor them.
- How do you feel your work as a STEM Facilitator relates to your studies in Psychology and Biology while you were in undergrad?
Well as an undergraduate I studied Psychology and Biology. So, as a STEM facilitator I brought the science knowledge I was learning at school to work. However, I never had teaching experience or prior knowledge in education so, it was hard for me to learn about classroom management, strategies, lesson planning etc. However, I learned during the process it was trial and error for me. Currently, as a master student studying science education now I am learning more about strategies, classroom management, lesson planning and I am bringing that knowledge to work.
- Is there a memorable event, student, or group that stands out in your mind that you have worked with? Or any specific project?
One memorable group that I worked with was during a summer program TriQuest, it was a Co-ed program at Funston Elementary School. The program was a 4-week program and each week the students learned a different science topic such as computer science, forensic science, environmental science, and the last week it was field trips that related to a topic. So, each week was very exciting to see the students learn and work on projects, but the week that stood out for me the most was the very first week when the student learned about computer science. The students had the chance to work with Lego Mindstorm robots and each team of students had to build, and then program the robot to do various challenges. This was very exciting to watch the students become very competitive and just watching how they work collaboratively with each other was awesome because each student brought their own style, knowledge, and just creativity into their programming and overall their technique. Also, what stood out to me was that Project Exploration connected the students to TATA Consultancy goIT organization, so I liked that the kids had the chance to get connected with computer scientist that do programing and building as a career.
- Through working with Project Exploration, what have you learned from working with Project Exploration youth?
Through working with Project Exploration, I learned from working with Project Exploration youth is to be yourself. Many youths know when a person is not themselves. Also, be structured as a facilitator but also be fun. The student should know when it is time to get to business and when to have fun. Lastly, I learned that youth are very smart and are willing to bring their skills to the table with guidance, they can bring so much even things that I couldn’t even bring or come up with. They just have so much to offer!
- Outside of working with Project Exploration youth, how do you enjoy spending your time?
Outside of working with Project Exploration, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I like going for walks with my love one when the weather permits it. When there is a good show on Netflix or Hulu honestly I binge watch it. Also, I LOVE cooking and baking! I like to learn how to cook different things, watching YouTube videos on how to cook something or even when I come across a new recipe and I will like to try it, I go for it! It’s like chemistry in the kitchen!
- What next for you?
Honestly, I can say that my experience with Project Exploration led me to apply to a master’s program in science education. Currently, in the program I hope to finish strong and bring my experience from Project Exploration into my high school biology future classroom.
- Is there anything else you can see yourself getting out of the work you do with Project Exploration?
Definitely, not only did I learn different lessons and activities to do with youth. But I learned to be a caring, compassionate, and authentic person to our youth because nowadays is more than just teaching our youth skills and knowledge we need to be there as a mentor they can come up to and look up to.
Interview conducted by: Kiara Bird