UTPA Report: Elementary students involved in STEM program

Photo courtesy of UTPA

POSTED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 12:08pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 9:54am

With our nation on the verge of facing a serious shortage of engineers, scientists and other STEM related professionals, it’s critical that our society find ways to inspire our young people to pursue these type of careers. At The University of Texas-Pan American, a student organization believes their annual event is helping in these efforts. Here’s this week’s UTPA story.

These children don't know it, but these activities they're participating in, are more than just playing games with their classmates and having fun. They are actually being exposed to the basics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math related fields we call STEM. The kinder, first and second grade students are learning such things as how to design and create objects and make them function, work in teams by getting along, and be leaders in their groups when it's time to speak up. The event is called El ABC de la Ciencia" or the “ABC’s of Science”, put together every year by a student group called the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers or SHPE. The goal is to pique the interest of our young people, especially Hispanics, and inspire them to pursue one of the many STEM disciplines in college and as a career.

Samantha Mendez, UTPA SHPE Chapter President, "With these activities which are to reach out to the community and let them know about the opportunities they can have in STEM in the future to try to break that idea that Hispanics cannot go to college, Hispanics cannot go to engineering school or science school. So, we're trying to involve students with activities that are fun for them and that they can learn the interesting part of engineering and science. "

As part of the event, the children built balloon carts, paper roller coasters, propellers with balloons, and a tower made out of straw and spaghetti and marshmallows just to name a few. UTPA SHPE leaders are amazed at the level of interest the students have in STEM activities and excited to know that they're making a difference because they too were impacted by STEM mentors when they were their age.

Samantha Mendez, UTPA SHPE Chapter President, "It is important because someone else did it for us. Someone else came to us and talked about engineering, and talked about the opportunities we could have and we just want to give out a little bit of what we can do to impact the world. We know the world is having a lot of issues and we definitely think engineering can solve all of them."

The students represented schools from Edinburg, Weslaco, La Joya and Mission and as you can see in their faces the STEM activities are making a huge impact.

Irasema Barrera, Esparza Elementary Student, "My team is having a blast and they are working as a team.”

Destiny Eguizabal, Ramirez Elementary Student, "It's super fun, it's super exciting."

Samantha Mendez, UTPA SHPE Chapter President, "You feel it all pays off, all those nights staying late and the discussions and all that. It just pays off seeing that you are helping the future and you're helping your community giving a little bit of your time.”

I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.


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