PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville Middle School students are nearing the end of a two-week summer program held at Pulaski Technical College designed to promote STEM education.
The goal of “Stem Success” is to increase African American student enrollment, retention and completion of STEM courses. Organizers think STEM jobs will grow 55 percent faster than other fields over the next decade.
“The first day they had to work themselves into it. But after that it’s been “I like it, can we stay longer and why it over",” said STEM Success Director Richard Moss.
Spending more time in class isn't the ideal way of spending summer break for most students, but these middle schoolers are eager to get ahead.
"I have had a bunch of fun, we went on a field trip,” Jayla Moss said, a student at Jacksonville Middle School.
STEM Success is a summer enrichment institute that works to expose minority students to STEM programs that could possibly lead to degrees and successful careers.
“We are a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of African Americans in the fields of STEM. We primarily work with college students but have an outreach program to increase the pipeline. So, we started with middle school students to work on that pipeline,” said Moss.
He thinks it's important to prepare kids for a country and world that's becoming more STEM-based and hopes starting early will give them advantages.
"I aspire to be a surgeon,” Zaveon Jones said, a student at Sylvan Hills Middle School.
"I want to be a teacher. I think I’m going to teach math,” Jayla Moss added.
Many students have attended the program before, though they're learning STEM skills for the first time.
"I think that science, technology, mathematics and engineering will help me further better understand new techniques and medical advancements that are in today's society and for my future experiences as well,” said Jones.
During the program, students have built things like water propelled rockets, airplane skimmers and playgrounds.
Participants even took a trip to the Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“The next few days they'll be working on robots with fixed kits. Some will be moveable with towers. It'll be the culmination of the two weeks that they're here,” Richard Moss said.
Friday, June 15, parents will join students for a graduation that will also showcase exhibits created by students over the past two weeks.