The Start of the STEM Innitiative. Dr. David Brown (Chemistry Professor at Southwestern College, Chula Vista) came to El Paso to bring Project iLASER - a science demonstration which was funded by the National Science Foundation. We were one of many cities he visited along the U.S. – Mexico border in celebration of the International Year of Chemistry.
Dr. Brown’s visit was the catalyst for three STEM pilot programs at BGC El Paso. Dr. Brown has brought a wealth of information and resources including: science materials, introductions to University professionals and new partners, assistance with navigating websites for potential funding, and assistance with development of our STEM programs.
The STEM Innitiative was implemented in Guillen Middle School STEM Academy, Canutillo Elementary Project STEM, and Club Petty STEM Club. During the STEM Innitiative students were introduced to rotations of Power Hour, Triple Play, and Project STEM.
Making it Possible. Once the Science Academy was implemented we developed the following partnerships and have made progress toward program development:
- Middle School Science Teachers – local Science teachers refered youth to the Science Academy where they implemented science experiments which dove tail with classroom lessons.
- University of Texas at El Paso, Chemistry Department- Dr. Brown introduced us to Dr. Echegoyen who was interested in involving graduate and undergraduate chemistry students to help with the Science Academy. We were invited to attend their Chemistry Circus at the university and several of our youth attended.
- Corporate Sponsors – A scientist and owner of Aerospace Missions has agreed to provide 20 minute Skype science presentations featuring scientists currently in the field. This will provide the career exploration and question and answer component to our Academy.
- Materials – Dr. Brown left us well equipped with Project iLaser resources that we used to start up our Academy.
ArcelorMittal Vinton partnered with Canutillo Independent School District and Boys & Girls Clubs of El Paso (BGCEP) to focus on kids through the creation of Project STEM at Canutillo Elementary School. The goal was to reinforce academic success, while introducing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to elementary school students. The project engaged students in fun and exciting programs afterschool: they received help with homework and tutoring from Sylvan Learning Center during “Power Hour”; they learned about health and fitness in “Triple Play”; and, they learned how STEM is found every day in music, art, computers, careers and the world we live in.
“ArcelorMittal has provided seed funding for Project STEM and has remained a strong supporter as the project has gained popularity with other community partners, with parents, and most importantly – with the kids!” explained Arturo Jaime, Executive Director of Boys &Girls Club of El Paso. Freeport McMoRAN Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Paso Alumni Association have helped fund expansions to the project and partners such as the University of Texas at El Paso’s Chemistry Circus, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) SOS program, Captain Planet, the Philosophic Systems Institute (PSI) and many others have enhanced the program by offering presentations, activities and many fun learning opportunities.
In Year One (2012), a total of 200 students were served through Project STEM and the outcomes were encouraging:
- 88% of students sampled improved in one or more areas of the surveys measuring attitudes about STEM, which exceeded a target of 45% for this objective;
- 72% of students sampled maintained or improved both their math and science grades;
- And, teachers reported that children participating in the BGCEP program had higher rates of homework completion.
The next year (2013), Project STEM served 275 children, providing over 100 STEM educational sessions and meeting similar outcomes as 2012. In addition, children participated in the “Love of Wisdom Project” and demonstrated STEM learning and were able to measure the circumference of the earth based on Eratosthenes’ method and to explain and describe basic concepts of permaculture, the science of dehydrating food and the law of relativity of motion.
The STEM Initiatiative created a better future. This year in 2014, Project STEM continues to cultivate STEM learning among young students while attracting new volunteers and partners. More than thirteen volunteers from the University of Texas at El Paso, the El Paso Community College Northwest Campus and the community in general have assisted with various aspects of the program. The students received new books every month through Books are GEMs, new shoes through Payless ShoeSource and warm jackets through Operation Noel. KCOS screened their new math show PEG + CAT and El Paso Master Gardeners talked to the kids about horticulture. Walmart provided healthy snacks and oral hygiene products through their America’s Tooth Fairy: Smile Drive.