By Ricardo Sánchez Silva, @RicardoLoDice, NAHP Media Correspondent
The future of students, children of Hispanic parents, can often be uncertain if they do not have due orientation about possible study options, and mainly financial support. In such regard, Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) offers a new series of specific K-12 educational programs, which promote university studies, awareness, and access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), among traditionally underrepresented groups.
The Latin communities are within these sectors. Motivation and exposure of young people to role models, such as engineers and scientists, is of the utmost importance, as well as projects that they can develop with their own hands and through various activities.
“GMiS offers STEM students transformative scholarships, which help them to be successful in institutions that service Hispanics,” stated Anna Park, Executive Director of Great Minds in STEM.
Therefore, Viva Technology™ is a national K-12 educational program, designed by GMiS to involve students, teachers and parents with STEM challenges that stimulate their interest in technology application, and provides professional trajectories aimed at these areas. It creates awareness, provides resources, and access to professional trajectories.
Through various program options, Viva Technology™ has been implemented in 18 states, and the District of Columbia, with a scope of more than 136 thousand students, teachers, and parents.
The initiative has “Parents’ Nights”, which is an orientation session for parents or tutors, which takes place during “Student’s Day” week, a favorable date for young people to experience competitive and educational activities through practice. They work in teams directed by university students (university captains) of nearby universities, specialized in a STEM field.
The guideline is designed to explain parents what their children will learn by participating in the program, as well as promoting interest in mathematics and science, while informing them about the positive impact on their children’s futures, and future professional opportunities. Something that is key in this process is that material and presentations can be given both in English and Spanish.
“The United States need to produce more engineers and scientists. This starts exposing more young students to the STEM world around them and inspiring them to dream about a career in STEM. Therefore, the GMiS Viva Technology™ Program does precisely that,” said Danielle Villar, Coordinator of the Educational Program.
On the other hand, a motivating factor is that careers linked to STEM are better remunerated than others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job projections in the area will grow, between 2019 and 2029, in around 797 thousand positions, which represent an 8% increase, compared to the 3.7% of the rest of the occupations. In the meantime, the annual average salary in 2019 is located at $ 86,980, which is more than twice the $ 39,810, belonging to other professions or trades.
Exposure to these areas is precisely what offers another learning perspective to young people of Latin origin, such as Odalia Benítez, who studied in the South Gate Middle School in California, 5 years ago. “This is a unique life opportunity. It is hands on, it is different from school, because at school we read, memorize and learn, but here, we provide our imagination, we get involved in our project, which we create,” affirmed then the girl, who was in 8th grade.
The program has also two other activities that are important for student development. They are “Teacher’s Day” and the “Student Assembly”. The latter groups between 200 and 600 students, who meet to experience half a day full of energy, in a unique educational environment. As part of the largest student program, competition is fostered in a contest designed at STEM. Student participation provides them the opportunity to win educational prizes at the end of the program.
“We are in the 21st century and things evolve quickly. We need this type of programs in our schools, in order to create awareness, not only in students, but also in communities, and in our parents,” asserted Araceli Gómez, who was the Mathematics, Science and Technology Coordinator at South Gate Middle School.
The organization makes a call to consider tax deductible donations, which will go to the GMiS Scholars and Outreach Fund. You can read on their website “Together we can make a difference. One student at a time,” while they explain that your contribution will help them to keep doing their job of supporting young people, and university students, to achieve their dream of attending university, finishing their studies, and obtaining a degree in the STEM area.
“Now, more than ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to grant scholarships and educational resources is even greater. As they make the effort to stay focused on their education, despite of sudden changes and the reduction of financial support, it becomes ever more imperative to work together to make a difference in our students’ lives (…), those who are the most vulnerable now. Your generosity can be this bright beacon of hope for these students! it states in its site.”
To make a donation, please visit: http://www.greatmindsinstem.org/fund-gmis/donate-to-great-minds-in-stem