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Black Enterprise September 2013 : Page 29

BRACEY EMPOWERS MINORITY TEENS TO EXCEL IN STEM DISCIPLINES. STEM SPOTLIGHT Unlocking Innovation in Teens U.S. China SOURCE: WHITEHOUSE. GOV SEPTEMBER 2013 • PHOTOGRAPH BY COLIN M. LENTON • EDITED BY JANEL MARTINEZ @janelmwrites 29 Japan Pennsylvania MESA is equipping middle and high school students with the tools they need to compete in the global job market SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATH (STEM) EDUCATION is essential to foster the next generation of innovators in America. With STEM occupations predicted by the Department of Commerce to grow nearly twice as fast as non-STEM professions between 2008 and 2018, the Obama administration has vowed to produce 1 million additional STEM graduates over the next decade—the amount needed to fll the workforce pipeline. And while the participation of students in STEM felds in the U.S. lags behind that of scholars internationally, the number is far lower among minorities, specifcally African Americans, Latinos, and women. But a program at Temple University is working to change the tide, expand-ing STEM education beyond the borders of The Keystone State. Founded in 2011, Pennsylvania Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) is a division of the award-winning program MESA USA, which has more than 40 years of producing scientists, technologists, and engineers. MESA provides rigorous courses, mentors, technical assistance, and valuable internships among other enriching activities and resources to students who are under-represented in STEM felds. Percentage of bachelor degrees earned in STEM felds 33% 53% 63%

Tech

STEM SPOTLIGHT<br /> <br /> Unlocking Innovation in Teens <br /> <br /> Pennsylvania MESA is equipping middle and high school students with the tools they need to compete in the global job market<br /> <br /> SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATH (STEM) EDUCATION is essential to foster the next generation of innovators in America. With STEM occupations predicted by the Department of Commerce to grow nearly twice as fast as non-STEM professions between 2008 and 2018, the Obama administration has vowed to produce 1 million additional STEM graduates over the next decade—the amount needed to fill the workforce pipeline. And while the participation of students in STEM fields in the U.S. lags behind that of scholars internationally, the number is far lower among minorities, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and women. <br /> <br /> But a program at Temple University is working to change the tide, expanding STEM education beyond the borders of The Keystone State. Founded in 2011, Pennsylvania Math Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) is a division of the award-winning program MESA USA, which has more than 40 years of producing scientists, technologists, and engineers. MESA provides rigorous courses, mentors, technical assistance, and valuable internships among other enriching activities and resources to students who are underrepresented in STEM fields.<br /> <br /> Serving as the lead MESA institution in Pennsylvania, this free initiative is designed to prepare students, ages 13 to 18, for academic and professional careers in STEM. Led by Jamie Bracey, Ph.D., director of STEM education, outreach, and research at Temple University, Pennsylvania MESA has served approximately 2,000 middle and high school students in a two-year time span. Bracey is invested in diversifying the STEM space—equipping the students with the knowledge to excel in these high growth industries and become producers, not just consumers, of technology. <br /> <br /> “We saw a 38% increase in what they knew in just two weeks,” says Bracey. “That’s astounding! In a six-week period of time, their attitude around science and engineering had changed 180%. It was a huge turnaround and based on that we received contracts from the [school] district.” <br /> <br /> The program offers STEM enrichment workshops, school-based programs, Saturday academies, and summer camps, and encourages students to think like entrepreneurs and business execs when programming or developing mobile apps. Students are compensated for their expertise, as well as when they help others in their cohort. <br /> <br /> Bracey credits the students’ motivation to succeed and academic excellence with the program’s teaching style, which incorporates community learning, culture, and cognition. “Whether it says MESA or Timbuktu, it’s the fact that we’re using the best parts of our culture to accelerate what these kids know and how they feel about being successful in the tech space and in the engineering space,” says the program’s chief executive. <br /> <br /> Aspiring entrepreneur Langston Collins has been enrolled in the program for a year and a half. Collins’s parents, E. Steven and Lisa, both recognized their 15-year-old’s passion for tech at an early age and credit the program with giving their son the resources to create a business plan for his video game company. “It’s like school, but fun,” says Collins about the MESA initiative. <br /> <br /> The program’s efforts have paid of in a big way. Applify, the senior MESA apps team, won Philly Tech Week/AT&T Education Hackathon and took home $5,000. Program participants also won four team medals and 18 individual awards at the 2013 MESA USA National Engineering Championships, and four members of the computer science team have been awarded 2013 American Society of Engineering Education Science & Engineering Apprenticeships, providing $3,200 and summer employment in U.S. Navy labs to conduct engineering and technology research. <br /> <br /> Pennsylvania MESA has partnered with the U.S. Navy, urban lifestyle retailer VILLA, Verizon, and Temple College of Engineering, and the School District of Philadelphia’s federal GEAR UP program. Now available in Chester, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Mercer County, the program is expected to take its camp curriculum to 15 cities by June 2014, including Sao Paulo, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria. <br /> <br /> —Janel Martinez<br /> <br /> JANEL MARTINEZ’S TIP OF THE MONTH<br /> <br /> Stay On Track<br /> <br /> Apps can be a technological timesaver. Whether you’re on your smartphone or tablet, productivity- enhancing apps can help even the most disorganized individuals run a tight ship when it comes to staying on top of their daily tasks. To avoid being counterproductive, steer clear of your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter apps temporarily, but feel free to gravitate toward task management apps such as Omni- Focus ($19.99 for iPhone/$39.99 for iPad in App Store) and Asana, which is available in a free version for personal or light project management on both iOS and Android devices. Another iOScompatible app, Mynd, syncs with your existing calendars and uses location, contacts, map, weather, social networks, Evernote, and LinkedIn to give you a cohesive snapshot of your daily schedule. The free app will alert you when it’s time to leave for a meeting, tell you who you’re meeting with, and give you traffic conditions and your notes all in one shot.<br /> <br /> contact janel martinez at tech@blackenterprise.com or @janelmwrites<br /> <br /> Young Innovators in STEM<br /> <br /> ZORA BALL, a 7-year-old app developer, became the youngest person to create a mobile game application. Ball, who attends Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School in Philadelphia, presented her creation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Bootstrap Expo earlier this year. <br /> <br /> Chicago teen ANTHONY HALMON created Thermofier, a pacifier with a built-in thermometer. The 19-year-old is a freshman at Cornell University.<br /> <br /> BRITTNEY EXLINE made history, again, becoming the nation’s youngest African American engineer. The 20-year-old, who became the youngest African American female accepted into an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, is a software engineer for online advertising network Chikita. <br /> <br /> KELVIN DOE, known to many in his native Sierra Leone as DJ Focus, caught the attention of experts in the U.S. after teaching himself to build batteries and generators from household items. The 16-year-old is the youngest person in history to be invited to the Visiting Practitioner’s Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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