Submitted by Christina Bear
The acronym of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is creating a buzz in K-Graduate education these days primarily because of the projected job availability, especially in computers and technology. A nationwide effort is happening to motivate younger students toward STEM education and STEM careers, especially for minority students including girls and women.
A recent US News article “Latinos aren’t interested in STEM fields” struck me, a junior at Colorado Academy looking forward to studying Computer Science in college, that there is a distinct a need in my community to change this inequity right here in Colorado.
I developed a project for my Girl Scout Gold Award to benefit the Hispanic students in the Horizons Summer Program, a non-profit that is sponsored by my school Colorado Academy. I initiated an introduction to STEM for minority elementary students and taught them technology topics of Scratch computer programming and Lego robot construction and programming. Over the span of a week from June 30 to July 3, 2014, I taught 14 third graders an abbreviated STEM curriculum. Getting the students to enjoy their first experience of computer programming and technology was my main goal.
The students expressed comments such as “Can we program in our free time?” and “Can we do this next summer?” leading me to conclude there is a clear benefit and need for after school and summer program STEM enrichment for minority children. I realized that high school students can develop themselves as STEM mentors in informal teaching using the knowledge they have gained in their schooling. For example, I found it helpful that my coursework in math, sciences, and computer science allowed me to comfortably conduct an informal teaching course in STEM.
Going for a Gold Award with Girl Scouts has been a fulfilling experience and unique from any other project I have done. In particular, the Gold Award process made me carefully think of impact on my community. The immediate impact was hearing the students’ positive comments and getting teacher’s feedback that the students expressed a new found interest in STEM.
The Gold Award also requires that I sustain my project, which is unique and challenging. The concept of sustainability is a real-world necessity especially if you want to bring change to your community. Working with a nurturing mentor, Ms. Rae Ann Dougherty with the Girl Scouts of Colorado, I learned professional tips such as to include an Executive Summary in my manual. It is also my hope to sustain the program at Horizons Colorado Academy depending on funding and student availability.
Given the potential value of high school students teaching younger students on a voluntary basis, I started Project STEM Student Mentors to motivate my peers to give back to their communities by volunteering to educate our younger students. I have prepared a manual from a student’s perspective on my experience and guidelines to initiate a program at your school accessible from my web site www.projectstemstudentmentors.com. Character, commitment and competence are all necessary ingredients to have a successful high school student STEM mentor program.
As for minorities in STEM, I believe that diversity brings out about creativity and that is sure to lead to innovation. This is what our students and really our country needs to become successful on a global scale. I am grateful to Girl Scouts of Colorado to complete a Gold Award project that changes my world for the better.
For more information about Project STEM Student Mentors, contact Christina Bear at firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Earn your Gold Award by Feb. 28, 2015 and you could win the $1,000 Stephanie A. Foote Leadership Prize! It will be awarded to a Girl Scout who has received her Gold Award in the current year and whose project is selected by an independent panel as an exceptional example of sustainable impact through leadership. To learn more click here.