Building STEM Learning Opportunities in the Austin Community
Meaningful experiences with science, technology, engineering and math enable young people to become critical and collaborative thinkers. Research shows that high-quality experiences in school are necessary but insufficient for young people to get and stay involved with science, and to be equipped with the skills necessary to pursue science and engineering beyond high school graduation. (State of STEM in Out-of-School Time in Chicago, 2013) Based on this report we also find that though most Chicago communities have STEM related opportunities not all do and in some the options are grossly limited. Austin, one of the city’s largest (population 98,514) and most distressed neighborhoods with a 25% rate of residents with no high school diplomas and 21% unemployment is a community area in need of STEM learning strategy to bolster.
Bringing Sisters4Science to Spencer Elementary Technology Academy
Project Exploration has been committed to developing STEM learning opportunities in the Austin community and thrilled to bring Sisters4Science to Spencer Elementary Technology Academy. Arionna an 8th grader at Spencer joined Sisters4Science because the name peaked her interest, she was curious, she loves chemistry and wanted to try something new.
Meet Arionna, a new Sisters4Science participant!
Arionna’s STEM facilitator Kamentha has introduced her to various STEM disciplines with a focus on engineering. During a program session they built paper airplanes out of straws. It was her favorite activity they did so far because she didn’t realize you could make something so cool out of something so simple. She still has the paper airplanes that they made out of straws.
Kamentha has made this program very enjoyable, she is easy to talk with and she has created an learning environment that feels like family. Creating this program setting has allowed the girls to connect with Kamentha, each other and have fun doing science!
What’s in store for Arionna’s Future Plans!
Participating in S4S has been helpful to Arionna, the activities that they have done has made her be a critical thinker and she has a better understanding of problem solving. Looking forward, since starting Sisters4Science Arionna has only been looking and applying for high schools that offer STEM after-school programs so she can continue “doing” more science like chemistry experiments. Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School is top on her list! Look out Eagles you have your newest chemist on her way!