In Candice Halbert's work setting as a STEM professional, she is often the only woman in the room, and even more often the only person of color. To change this, in 2016, she started Girls in STEM (gSTEM) to expose young ladies in middle school to current STEM professionals, projects, and ideas that they normally would not have access to. She and other women volunteers from ORNL mentor local middle school girls to show them the benefits of a STEM career through hands-on experiments with practical, real-world applications. The experiments were wide ranging, such as learning to code, building simple Styrofoam hovercrafts, determining the amount of aspirin in an aspirin tablet, and growing different strains of bacteria commonly found on cell phones and door handle. Spring-boarding off the success of gSTEM, Candice expanded the STEM program by creating Youth Outreach in Science Technology Engineering and Math, YO-STEM for short, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in 2017.
Under YO-STEM, Build-a-Drone club was created at the request of Vine Middle School. In it, co-ed middle schoolers built, calibrated, programed, and piloted ground and aerial drones, from LEGO models to advanced-level designs. With this co-ed program we were able to serve young men and women and tap into their everyday curiosity about drone technology.
Since our beginnings we have switched our Build-a-Drone club over to Robotics and opened up programming to younger students through our STEM Saturday program. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.
With the support of our community and sponsors, we have been able to bring impactful STEM programming and activities to over 3000 students via our after-school programs and community involvement. 74% of our students are cultural minorities, and 51% are girls. Our goal is to facilitate a competitive advantage so that our students will thrive in the marketplace, build wealth, and positively impact society.
These programs are sponsored by your contributions