To alleviate the barriers of underrepresented students of color in STEM, the Overtown Youth Center Summer STEM Program has created “STEM Fridays.” This weekly program provides students with opportunities to demonstrate their interest and aptitude in STEM subjects.
Last “STEM Friday,” over fifty students from the Summer STEM Program visited The LAB Miami for fun and engaging technological-related activities that demonstrated the basics of computing and programming. Nelson Milian and Willie Avendano, co-founders of Wynwood Maker Camp, directed the activities and demonstrations.
“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are vital to our future, the future of our country, the future of our community, and the future of our children,” writes Victor Andrews, program manager at Overtown YouthCenter, in a letter to The LAB. His vision for student exposure included a partnership with The LAB because it was, "an organization that was focused not only on preparing students to succeed in STEM, but one that was comfortable with bringing in over fifty ambitious and passionate students to their office space..."
Below is an excerpt from the letter Andrews wrote about the students’ valuable experience at The LAB:
The Lab Miami exposed our students to computer science, coding, digital printing, and technology career options. Students ranged in age from 8 to 14, but most had never received exposure to these technological related activities until STEM Friday. This opportunity allowed our students to showcase their hidden talents. They were able to usethe valuable resources at the LAB Miami and the Overtown Youth Center toaddress the national crises predominantly affecting students of color.
It was inspiring to see their enthusiasm and their unflinching determination as they participated in a morning full of STEM demonstrations and activities. LAB Miami is clearly taking firm steps to level the playing field and provide equal access to the tools and resources students of color need to succeed in this digital global economy.
The bleak reality is that not all of our students will have access to tools and resources within their home to compete and succeed. But with the assistance from gracious organizations such as The LAB Miami that are focused on collaborative partnerships, we will hopefully begin to address the opportunity divide and digital divide that effects students of color to ensure that our students are able to acquire the necessary skills and compete for the workforce of the future.
The Overtown Youth Center truly appreciates such a great organization for exposing our students to the many facets of STEM.