Check out options to help level the science and tech playing field
—Reporting by Janelle Rucker
When it comes to exposing youth to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the earlier the better.
Acknowledging the importance of STEM education, the Obama administration embarked on Educate to Innovate in 2009 in an effort to encourage and prepare more children to work in these fields. Minorities specifically need a boost, being the most underrepresented in STEM careers because of the lack of access to related programs and professionals.
Below are a few resources to jump start your education and career in STEM:
National Society of Black Engineers’ Summer Engineering Experience for Kids
Each summer, 300 students in grades three through eight participate in the National Society of Black Engineers’ SEEK camp. Held in different cities around the country, this free camp exposes participants to hands on projects and African American college students working on degrees in STEM subjects. The mentors guide students through exercises and a design competition using math, science and problem solving skills.
Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement
Since 1970, MESA has provided classes, competitions and counseling in schools around the country to help “educationally disadvantaged” students excel in STEM subjects. From elementary school through college, MESA partners with educators and students to offer services including MESA Day Academies, SAT/PSAT preparation and professional development workshops.
Advanced Placement (AP) STEM Access
To encourage underrepresented minorities to take more advanced STEM classes, The College Board, DonorsChoose.org and Google teamed up to start the STEM Access program. Thanks to a $5 million grant, the program aims to start new AP science and math classes in more than 800 public schools across the country. The new classes are expected to start this fall and last for at least three years.
Part of Project Lead The Way, the Gateway Academy is offered to middle school students across the country to introduce them to STEM subjects. Hosted by local middle schools or high schools, the one- or two-week summer camp gives students hands-on experience, working on projects related to STEM subjects.
Summer Math and Science Honors Academy
A project of the Level Playing Field Institute, the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH) gives minorities long-term guidance and exposure to STEM subjects that they might not have in their home schools. Students participate in the program each summer for three years, engaging in classes that sharpen STEM skills and prepare them for college. During the school year, SMASH participants receive support, including SAT preparation and college counseling. Currently offered at California colleges, there are plans to expand to other college campuses in the future.