Guest Author: Carmen Cornejo, Hispanic Community Liaison, AZ SciTech Festival
Any given Saturday, during the school year, students and mentors get together at Galveston Elementary to enthusiastically work on algebra, calculus, physics, chemistry and robotics. Young students practice solving problems and equations, writing their responses on whiteboards while being guided by college students.
The young students belong to the Si Se Puede Foundation STEM Program and which has partnered with the Chandler –Gilbert Community College and the Chandler Unified School District to work in extra-curricular programs to enhance their instruction. All come from district schools with a high percentage of children who are economically disadvantaged. Si Se Puede Foundation offers these extra-curricular activities free of charge.
Currently the program has 85 students attending the STEM programs.
You can feel the excitement in the air. Every child is filled with knowledge and confidence to tackle problems, some of them above their grade level.
At the end of the math sessions they will go into robot building mode with Legos Mindstorms to top a morning filled with learning and excitement.
“Si Se Puede Foundation is giving inspiration (through our robotics program) to pursue careers in STEM, but we also want to be provide them with tools to succeed in math so they can make the connection between inspiration and academic rigor.” We want to give them the right formula for success, says Alberto Esparza, President and CEO.
I call that inspiration + perspiration.
“It is so fun to see the students getting excited to take on calculus or chemistry problems individually or as a group. We have a significant group of girls in our program because we want to encourage them to enter these fields,” says Esparza.
Si Se Puede college students and professors who lead the calculus sessions, come, thanks to a partnership with the Chandler Gilbert Community College, and the Arizona State University Mexican American Engineering and Scientists student group.
“For the parents we create an environment where the children can be out of trouble while they learn. We want to provide our children innovative opportunities and not just a basketball and a baloney sandwich to pass the time,” Esparza says.